With the ninth edition of the PAP International Jazz Festival coming in January, we can assume that the festival is now well entrenched in Haiti’s capital culture. This year, Haiti Jazz Foundation started a pilgrimage to promote the festival and to bring more awareness of this great musical event in the Diaspora. This journey will take them to New York, Montreal, Paris and so on, to incite Haitians living abroad to incorporate this highly entertained destination into their calendar of activities for January.
This past week end, Miami was the starting point of this tour aimed at inviting music lovers living abroad to this great music festival, known now “PAP Jazz”. This event has grown in popularity as a platform for jazz music in the Caribbean and as a unique venue for the promotion of our emergent Kreyòl Jazz. To that extent, the Little Haiti Cultural Center housed a photo exhibit (9/19 to 9/29) of vibrant moments of the past eight editions, a workshop and two concerts: one indoor with the United International Jazz Band and another free outdoor performance with Eddy François’ Boukan Ginen and Jowee Omicil as guest artist. Our focus is going to be on the first event.
Because of the rain and probably the scheduling time (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM), the indoor concert was not well attended. Those who were present had the opportunity to witness a very dynamic international band playing great music; and from the many interactions the musicians (Jowee and Chardavoine) had with the public, we can surely conclude it was a great night. The two hours flew fast. Those present enjoyed this musical interlude. The band played a rich and diverse repertoire comprised of straight ahead well-known opuses, Brazilian standards such as Triste and Kreyòl Jazz popular pieces such as “Manman-m Voye-m Peze Kafe”. The international concept resounded not only in the line-up but in the repertoire as well. When the concert reached the end, one could feel a little bit of sadness to see this great party ending so fast; but there was that free after party at the “outdoor theater”.
All the musicians, as a team, delivered a great performance. Bassist Don Wilner walked his lines to deliver a groovy scenery supported by drummer Harvel Nakundi and percussionist Joel Widmaier. All of this braced intelligently by pianist Mike Orta whose presence were so significant along the two hours. Jowee Omicil played “4 my People” and interacted with the audience. Vocalist Beatriz Malnic opened a joyful window on Jobim’s music and gratify the audience with a real journey to Brazil.
Saxophonist Felipe Lamoglia and guitarist Jean Chardavoine performances deserve some special comments here. The former conveyed that dynamic sound, so typical of his playing, throughout the night. Visibly at ease, his solos were like an exploration of dazzling colors that intertwine with beautiful melody lines that added a real charm to this international band. The latter, whom I saw playing for the first time was amazing as well. He effortlessly delivered his lines, in a beautiful tone, with an exceptional clarity and exhibited such a comfort in navigating licks, melodies and registry in all the subgenre played during the night. I will always remember his rendition of the popular “Manman-m voye-m pezekafe”. Simply beautiful!
In summary, it was a very cool night, and we were entertained by a bunch of cool guys who have dedicated their whole life to Jazz music. The PAP Jazz Festival is a great initiative from Joel Widmaier and his team. After eight years of hard work, this event needs to expand its clientele and the best targeted-group to support this expansion is the Haitian Diaspora. As konpa enthusiasts travel every year to Miami to be part of the Konpa Fest in May, or Carnival devotees journey to Port-au-Prince for three days in February and July; jazz aficionados and others in the Diaspora should travel to Haiti for the PAP International Jazz Festival every January. The festival lasts eight days. The musicians give workshops in scattered places in the city and finally, every night there is an after party somewhere. Therefore there is no time to be bored.
Meanwhile, let us proudly say that we have our own Jazz Festival and the best way to show our support is to contribute to its sustainability. So what are you waiting for? Start preparing for January TODAY!