Alice Backer enjoys the music, leaning against the wall exhibiting Art Quake prints, part of a portfolio of prints whose proceeds will go to Haiti.
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Photo by Tequila Minsky

“I wanted to do something located more in the jazz idiom,” says Buyu Ambroise on how his third CD, “Jazzpora,” differs from his last ones. With the core Blues in Red Band–his musical companions since the first CD, Ambroise reveals his musical influences, Haitian, African and North American, all places Ambroise has called home.

Lou Rainone is on keyboard, Paul Beaudry-bass, and Markus Schwartz, a “militant” Haitian percussionist, is one who ensures that a Haitian presence through rhythms is in the fabric of the music. Many guest musicians add to the breadth of this CD. Ambroise underscores that Willie Martinez, drums and percussion on seven tracks, adds hues of Latin music to the collection.

Ambroise composed half of the 12 cuts, inspired by people he knows, his son, his two daughters, a woman he admires. “Just in Caze” (just in case), the second cut, features Jean Caze on trumpet in a long solo, a piece written with him in mind.

The multi-genre musician, talented Melanie Charles, sings in Kreyol with an English intro on “En Vacances,” the third cut. It’s the only piece with vocals on the album. “Haiti is a singing culture and another way to connect musically with the audience,” says Ambroise. “I’m inclined to use more vocals in the future.”

The “soft” CD release and performance at Five Myles Gallery in Crown Heights wrapped up ArtQuake a month-long exhibition/installation paying tribute to those who perished during the earthquake and included workshops and other events. Included in the exhibition were 10 original prints that make up the ArtQuake portfolio (available for sale, individual prints, too, with proceeds of sales going to Haiti. The month of events were in collaboration with Haiti Cultural Exchange.

In late October in Haiti, Ambroise performed with electronic percussionist Val Jeanty for the first time. “She brought a sound that became new parameters for the band,” he said.

One of their two performances was on the grounds of Sans Souci, the extraordinary ruins of the palace of Henri Christophe. Ambroise was practically speechless about the experience, “How can I find words to express how I felt? There you can hear, smell and visualize history unfolding. It renewed my sense of being Haiti and I’m so proud.” People traveled from Cape Haitien and flew from Port-au-Prince to partake of the fist time ever a band was part of a public performance on the grounds of Sans Souci.

The name of Buyu Ambroise’s just released CD, “Jazzpora,” references Haitians living in the United States, in the Diaspora (a word that means scattering of language, culture or people). Sometimes a similar sounding term, “djaspora,” flung from homeland Haitians about their U.S. kinsmen is used very disparagingly. The saxophonist wants to confront this conflict in his CD. By choosing this name, he says, “I would like to change the dialogue and begin to say we (those living in the U.S.) are part of the same people.”

Buyu Amboise playing a riff from his new CD, “Jazzpora.”
Photo by Tequila Minsky

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