Best known for essaying the indigenous sounds and habits of
the rural South and the Appalachians Alan Lomax (1915 – 2002) was a
preservationist, curator, and conservationist. Mostly though, as heard
throughout the 10 CDs of Alan Lomax in
Haiti, he was an ethnomusicological spirit catcher whose revelations
captured Afro-Caribbean and African nuances decades before David Byrne and Moby
set their samplers to warp speed.
We can now listen in to a pivotal era in Haiti’s cultural history, when the country was
throwing off U.S.
imperialism and embracing both its African roots and the coming influence of
jazz and African-American/Afro-Caribbean popular music and dance,” states the
producer’s daughter Anna Lomax Wood in Haiti‘s
formidable books of notes. Like a sonic version of Wade Davis’s The Serpent and the Rainbow, these 1936-37
recordings maintain the raw sound of oppression, rage, freedom and sexuality
that is the 287 song package. These are politicized meringues, religious
mambos, vodou parade tunes and priestly jazz dances. These are private moments
captured in tiny clubs, yards, and tribal rituals. They are pop songs.
In reality the entirety of Haiti is one long treasure map with Lomax as the guy with the map and the mic – each
worth their weight in gold. It might be hard to get through the box – it’s
distant and foreign in every way. But like every treasure hunt, the adventure
is the key to its wealth.
Standout Tracks: “Gede
Nibo, yo fè rayi mwen” “Pa mele nan betiz-sa” “Mesi Papa Vensan” A.D. AMOROSI