This time Duato has turned to Haiti and the music of Toto Bissainthe, with drive and sway. It has inspired Duato in the crisp, clear-cut style of Jardí Tancat. Four couples, in shades of grey working clothes, start calmly and build upto an arresting finish, with the word “liberté” repeated in the song.
Rassemblement is a creation which gradually, through the liberating powers of music and dance, proves to be an impressive, thrilling and audience affecting appeal for human rights. These songs are mostly slaves’ songs from the Voodoo cult. They express the daily life of the slaves, their longing for Africa, not as a geographical reality, but as a mythical land of freedom. They express their resistance and their refusal: resistance to the colonist, rejection of his politics, his religion, his culture and his language.
During the history of Haiti, the face of the master has often changed. Capitalism, developing in Haiti, has transformed the sense of Voodoo. The ethnographer came first, and then the tourist for whom folklore was produced with revived exotic excitement. Voodoo, which for the poor exploited peasants, had been a celebration of the African roots of their increasingly more unbearable way of life, became a “religion”, one of the tools of power.
The birth of Voodoo in a land of exile, the first common language among slaves of different ethnic backgrounds, was a vital creative moment, a cultural unification which was to transform the world: an opening for the confined. That is the moment we sing about. Using the traditional music of Haiti we meet with other musical forms to open a way towards a contemporary music that knows no frontiers.
Toto Bissainthe with MarieClaude Benoît and Mariann Mathéus: voice
Akonio Dolo and Mino Cinélu: percussion; Patrice Cinélu: guitar; Beb Guérin: double bass
Recording: Arion (1977)