Chardavoine Live at Jamaica Performing Arts Center

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chardavoine
With Ginou Oriol & Felina Backer

Fans who usually attend Chardavoine’s concert become infatuated with great performances. On Saturday, October 30, 2010, he shared the stage with Ginou Oriol and Felina Backer, two dominant voices in Kreyol Jazz, at the impressive Jamaica Performing Arts Center in New-York. The result was simply spectacular because the artist entertained the audience with a high level of creative energy during a two hour performance.

The guitarist opened the set with a version of Bernard Wright’s “Who do you love”. The band started in such a relatively impressionistic mood, and progressively set up the stage for an unforgettable evening. They followed with two beautiful Stevie Wonder compositions, “Bird of beauty” and “I can’t help it”. The audience appeared to be abuzz with enthusiasm.

Backed up by a cast of talented musicians including Gregory Jones on bass, Ismael Bongo Bruno on congas, and Phoenix Rivera on drums, Chardavoine lead the band with ease and even found a way to inspire the audience with some unexpected twists on most pieces he played. The remarkable keyboardist Misha Tsiganov was flawless and demonstrated his ability to impose a dynamic playing, especially on “Who do you love”. Trumpeter Gil Defay sounded better than ever, his ability to engage in moving musical exchange was surprising and he was the secret weapon of the evening.

The performance unfolded in a warm and cozy atmosphere and we were granted an exceptional moment when Ginou Oriol hit the first note of “Yoyo” followed by “Spain”. Even though she serenaded New-Yorkers in many occasions, her singing recaptured past times and sealed the present in stone. The audience caught by surprise couldn’t stop clapping. The young gifted female vocalist Felina Backer then got on stage to perform “Mesi Bondye”. Listeners were under the charm of this young diva who exhibit talent and charisma. She then “performed God bless the child” and really kept the fire burning. Her ability to dominate was so impressive. She and Defay engaged in a couple of fascinating musical dialogues that were magnificent. The first set closed on a Herbie Hancock composition, “Tell me a bed time story”.

After a short break the band began the second set with “Softly as in the morning sunrise”, a Sigmund Romberg (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (words) composition. The band continued its journey with “Lavi mizisyen” and “Complainte paysanne”, two classics from the Haitian rich repertoire. The show closed on a superb rendition of Beatles’ “Come together”, beautifully rearranged by Chardavoine with a remarkable freshness. The audience engaged in a call-and-response with Ginou and Felina to end the evening in style.

There’s no question that Chardavoine is a gifted musician who, once engaged, can deliver dazzling arrangements in jazz masters’ tradition. This cat (Chardavoine) really deserves a respectful attention. It was tantalizing to witness Ginou and Felina as well; two talented women with different singing intensity and quality, yet sharing the same stage and sparkling in unison. The audience clearly left the center knowing they’d gotten their money’s worth.

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Karl Joseph