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  CD Reviews

Title: Amédé
Artist: Jean Caze
Release Date: December 2015

More than eight years after his coronation (1), trumpet virtuoso Amédé Jean Caze self-releases his second album that bears the eponym title "Amédé". He teamed up with top- quality Kreyòl Jazz musicians to deliver an exquisite second album that was expected for years now. Indeed, in one of our interviews, dated June 3, 2007, he was already talking about this "Kreyòl Jazz project". The idea came as a result of his encounter with his fellows Haitian jazz musicians.

2015 "Amede" Jean CazeIn this sort of crusade toward his origins, the soothing and crystalline sound that emanates from Caze's trumpet espouses traditional Haitian rhythms and walks down the meanders of Konpa's tempos. The artist ventures into diversity with the production of some awesome ballads that have more to do with world music. To a certain extent Caze himself is reluctant to call the music on this album "Jazz". The target is obviously a larger audience. But the improvisation factor is omnipresent throughout the ten tracks that populate the album.

The cast of twenty-five skillful musicians, the dazzling arrangements by the trumpeter, excluding Amazing Grace (2), the originality of the approach; all of these converge to mutate into a unique delivery of original colors that will please the listeners' ears.

This album contains ten great opuses. We will comment a few of them. Caze brings to light the exceptional talent of Melanie Charles whose scat singing improvisation in unison with Caze's solo on "Cherokee" embodies the spirit of the greatest jazz divas. Vocalist Emeline Michel on "Gran Manjè" attack her line with a high energy that decreases and slides to a pleasant dissonance supported by pianist Dave Siegel's subtle playing. Martine Marseille's young voice on "Kè Kase" takes us on a love ballad that add a surprising diversity to the album. Caze's electric grainy sound on a revisited "Lounge" is a delight on a funky tapestry. The album closes on a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, crafted around the talent of keyboardist/pianist Mushy Widmaier.

Last not least, in the CD liner notes, Jean Caze thanks Policard and Widmaier for taking him "down the path of discovering his Haitian roots". And…they are actively present on some tracks. Therefore, this album fulfill a long time dream of meeting the other side of the dual heritage we mentioned earlier. "Amédé" is a proud and engaged statement about a certain direction Caze wants his music to go for now.

The choice of this very self-described title, far from expressing arrogance, elicits pride to be part to this rich and diverse culture that have inspired so many artists and writers by its wonders. As the essential of the musical envelop here may represent a western approach, this opus remains anchored into the great tradition of the Haitian musical experience which encompasses so many currents. It is a brilliant expression of the marvels of our rich and eclectic culture. Thanks for touching our soul… Amédé!

1- 2nd Place at the 2007 International Thelonious Monk Competition
2- Arranged by Mushy Widmaier

Alphonse Piard, Jr. (ALPI)
January 15, 2016

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