For his second solo album in 20 years Roger Raspail, a true legend on percussions, wished to reunite all the musicians who he has had the chance of performing alongside and that have marked him. The result is this wonderful intersection of jazz, cadense and Gwo Ka.With only two albums in a career lasting over forty years, the least one can say is that Roger Raspail takes his time ï¿½ and great care? ï¿½ before he puts his vision of the world to music. A big drummer who has featured on hundreds of albums, the native of Guadeloupe is finally taking centre-stage. ï¿½I had other priorities: meeting people, sharing things, exchanging.ï¿½ Free jazz or Cap-Verdean morna, Caribbean swing and Congolese rumba, spiritual funk and trance from the Sahel; the guy from Guadeloupe is one of those backing musicians whose humility only serves to underscore and enrich his musicality. Caressing one minute, banging the next, his expert fingers know how to bring the best out of the skins. Drumming is in his genes. Heï¿½s been linking and binding for decades, working on projects whose sheer variety says all there is to say about his open-mindedness and his ability to adapt. This is what this compilation is about: sounds that seem worlds apart, a jigsaw whose pieces, if assembled end to end, would tell a different story of our world. On this album he describes diversity at work, but behind that thereï¿½s a sense of deep roots from which he draws his identity. ï¿½Creolizedï¿½, to paraphrase the West Indian essayist ï¿½douard Glissant, for whom the poetry of any relationship is based on the ï¿½presenceï¿½ of all languages. This desire to encompass vast swathes of musical territory has never prevented him from tending to his own garden, to quote a different philosopher. Quite the opposite, in fact. Roger Raspail has never surrendered an ounce of originality, starting with the seven rhythms that go to make up gwo ka, the drum that is his islandï¿½s hallmark.
ï¿½Whatever happens, Iï¿½ll always be a gwo ka, and that is a firm part of my roots, my genes and my blood. I canï¿½t help thinking, dreaming, eating and charming through and with gwo ka. This drum and this music have given me everything. The clear trade-off, though, is that my music sounds like gwo ka, whichever type of instrument I play. Gwo-ka, like jazz, reggae or any other form of musical resistance, is a philosophy of life.ï¿½ Born in December 1953 in Capesterre Bel Easu, Roger Raspail grew up with that sound, the echo of the emancipation movements of the 1970s. After some early experience with his mentor Rudople Coppry, with whom he learned to make his own drum, Roger Raspail left the tropics to settle on the other side of the Atlantic. ï¿½When I left Guadeloupe it was to listen and look at things further afield.ï¿½ He turned pro in the mid 1970s and was a regular at the American Center, which sucked in experiences in free jazz from all corners. It was a time of awakening, followed by a dazzling array of appearances as a percussionist during the 1980s. It became difficult to keep track of his collaborations, although one particularly long-lasting one was with Cabe Verde Show. One could also cite the cult flautist Eugï¿½ne Mona, the barefoot diva Cesaria Evora, the zen pianist Mal Waldron, and the brilliant guitarist Dominique Gaumont.
At the beginning of the new millennium, he recorded his first album for Marge. He then had to wait for almost twenty years, recording over two hundred records with others, before he was once again the leader. ï¿½Dalvaï¿½ is his ï¿½belovedï¿½ granddaughterï¿½s name, and thus a natural successor to his first album, ï¿½Fannyï¿½s Dreamï¿½, which took its name from his daughter. It all sounds so obvious, because the repertoire shows off the many facets of a musician who has always brought his own spirit to his music. Bossa, calypso, rara, soul jazz, beguine, cadencesï¿½ Composed over many years, this compilation of mostly new tracks is a perfect excuse to travel into the heart of the creole world, an opportunity for the MC to play with old friends, always in good company. All of them follow the same course through this archipelago of sound that surpasses any divisions between black and white, any clear boundaries, any fixed categories. This album is not about enclosing orthodoxy; itï¿½s about opening peopleï¿½s minds.
As proof of this, his accompanying musicians hail from a range of backgrounds, but they are all part of his ï¿½familyï¿½. As the songs progress, we meet some of his old friends, and some he got to know more recently. Here again, there is no point in drawing up a full list, but itï¿½s worthwhile mentioning a few names. Jacob Desvarieux harks back to their many exchanges during the 1980s, and in particular to two albums by Kassavï¿½ led by Roger Raspail. The same goes for Patrice Caratini, a double bassist the percussionist met over thirty years ago ï¿½ ï¿½We had recorded an album at the Drï¿½her with George Brown, Richard Raux, Mal Waldron and Roy Borwosï¿½ ï¿½ and stayed in touch with throughout the 2000s. Itï¿½s also the case of the quintessential pianist, Alain Jean-Marie, whom Roger Raspail heard paly in Guadeloupe before catching up with him in Paris ï¿½at the famous concerts at Le Dunois with Dominique Gaumont, Alan Silva, Bobby Few and lots of other avant-garde jazz musiciansï¿½ï¿½ Younger but no less close, the cellist Vincent Sï¿½gal was also part of this unblinkered musical family. ï¿½Vincent happens to be Alain Jean-Marieï¿½s nephew. I met him at concerts and recording sessions with Morena, Alainï¿½s wife, and then we did a two-week tour of Guadeloupe. That cello-ka duet was one of my best experiences ever.ï¿½
Thereï¿½s also the London-based Trinidadian singer Anthony Joseph ï¿½ ï¿½the little brother from a big island near Guadeloupeï¿½ ï¿½ whom he met in Parisian clubs before they truly collaborated on various albums, the latest of which was ï¿½Kumakaï¿½, which bears Roger Raspailï¿½s imprint. But Raspailï¿½s most iconic collaborator is perhaps not the best known: ï¿½Itï¿½s a lovely story. Reda Samba was barely nine years old when I invited him to play on my first album; his father, Mokhtar Samba, was the drummer. Twenty years on, and the jobï¿½s his!ï¿½ How symbolic that this is a long-term affair, and that once all the tracks on this album have been assembled, they might just paint the most accurate self-portrait of its creator.