Young, gifted Grenadian guitarist Jeremy Hector makes his album debut with the aid of countryman — and Canadian Music Award winner — Eddie Bullen at the production helm. There is a flawless sheen to the smooth jazz tropes that ooze like treacle from these eleven tracks. That could be a bad thing, in that there is a sameness of song profile, but there’s a silver lining in the sound of that guitar. The tone of Hector’s instrument is remarkably listenable, suggesting there’s more for the audience than sonic fantasies of island life and tropical vacations. Hector’s mature supple fretting technique allows for fluid playing, and the listener’s obvious ease of engagement with these compositions — ten, self-composed — add to the idea that this debut was long overdue. A Caribbean rhythmic aesthetic shines through on the tracks “St Paul” and “Islander”, in particular, to give this album a unique distinction.
Creole Big Band MizikOpéyi
(Aztec Musique / 3M)
MizikOpéyi is an interesting concept in the Caribbean: an ensemble in the style of a New Orleans big band, but one which “combines swing in all its forms with the rhythms of the Antilles, with a rejuvenating modernity.” Formed by former Malavoi lead singer Tony Chassseur and his fellow Martiniquan, pianist and arranger Thierry Vaton, the band mines the music of the French Antilles, Haiti, and other Creole music sources globally. On their fourth album, the eponymous Creole Big Band covers the Creole music of the Caribbean and the overseas department of Réunion, and adds new tunes that showcase their wide repertoire. It also fascinates with a sound that can rival any big band in the land of jazz, yet is suffused with a kind of Caribbean fusion originality. Guest soloists include Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Franck Nicolas, Orlando Valle, Alain Jean-Marie, and Michel Alibo, to name a few. A new favourite for the seeker of Caribbean excellence.