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  CD Reviews

June 18, 2013

On Saturday, June 14th, I was very fortunate to be present at the Vault Café, in New York, to witness a well crafted performance by Shedly Abraham's contemporary jazz group on his birthday celebration. The drummer couldn't ask for a better musical birthday. He was surrounded by a cast of top-notch performers to celebrate this special occasion. The lineup included guitarist Makarios Césaire, bassist Bobby Raymond, pianist Frederic Las Fargas, keyboardist Yayoi Ikawa, trumpetist Edy Brisseaux, percussionist Clifford Sylvain and singer Martine Marseille.

Shedly's BirthdayThe band opened the evening with "Dreamin'", a Marcus Miller composition, taking from George Benson and Earl Klugh's album, "Collaboration". As good as the band sounded, Makarios Césaire set the bar with his mind blowing speedy and amazing technique. His melody lines were infused with a smooth, sweet and personal sound that suggests maturity and limitless talent. The band exhibited a perfect chemistry, a stunning cohesion embodied by a series of excellent tunes.

As the evening unfolded with its eclectic content, keyboardist Yayoi lighted up the room with some rich and vibrant solos on Emeline Michel's composition, "Bel Congo. Despite his willingness to play at his level, trumpetist Edy Brisseaux was under appreciated. His solos were played too low, due probably to a bad sound mixer setting. Amazing was the interpretation of "Human Nature", a Michael Jackson tune written and composed by Steve Porcaro and John Bettis. The Kompa flavor arrangements gave the tune a distinctive feel.

The birthday boy's skills remained sharp on drums. His elegant technique and warm style surprised the audience all night long. With a cool look and calming presence, Frederic occasionally echoed the melodies with key support. The prolific arranger provided a grounding force, whenever the occasion called for it. In "Papa Bondye", Yayoi presence was a blossom. Her melodies added rich texture with an uplifting result. The evening wouldn't be perfect without a drum solo by the maestro. Shedly's dynamic playing was alive and rich in color. The solo drew full attention and wholeheartedly deserved that interest as well. Bassist Bobby Raymond had his moment on "Earthquake" and he executed a magnificent solo that add up to this already well balance soirée.

Vocalist Martine Marseille joined the band on stage to further embellish the evening. Her ability to effectively control the moment, her passionate voice and her ease to produce flowing musical lines, set her above the average female singer in the kompa industry. She performed "Sweet Love", an Anita Baker composition and "Je veux de toi" to close the jazz set.

After the intermission the lineup changed for something more kompa. Ali Lariviere and Alan Cavé, two prolific singers and composers, joined the stage to celebrate with Shedly and the crowd was invited to the dance floor.

What a performance! The band maintained the energy throughout the night. It was a well planned show driven by friendship; and this family reunion was also a way to pay respect to the gifted drummer and the prolific musician. The crowd couldn't find a better setting for a lushly, relax and funny evening.

Happy Birthday Maestro Shedly!

Karl Joseph
June 18, 2013

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