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Makaïa by Philippe Makaïa

It will be music that saves us from spiritual destruction. Hopefully, our salvation will happen before a drastic demarcation of classes occurs.... a demarcation instituted by a kind of people who are blind to the human element which creates cultures throughout the world. All the more reason why we need to pay attention to the music that bears humanity within it right now, at this very moment.

Such is the music on the recording Makaïa from Gwoka drummer, Philippe Makaïa, from Guadeloupe. Gwoka drumming and singing originated with the slaves on the sugar plantations in the early 20th century on the Caribbean Island that is Makaïa’s birthplace. The gwo ka is actually a set of 3 hand drums which are played using seven specific rhythmic structures. The two combined equal Gwoka drumming. The singing associated with it characteristically has certain ornamentation and harmonies.

Makaïa’s music invites the listener immediately with the repetition of one guitar line to coincide with a comforting tonality. The intricate mixture of drums, trombone, and voices is perfectly balanced. And we are off for nearly an hour of music that is often festive and full of song and the richness of the dance. Sometimes single instruments dominate the musical line. Yet, underneath is the pervasive layer of drumming and percussion.

The rhythm captivates us from the very beginning. Nothing obscures the rhythm of nature. Matching our souls with the longing expressed in some of the lilting of the songs, we float in and out of a dreamland where no dividing lines exist and we hold hands with our loved ones. The life is simple. The desires are simple. The colors are bright. The emotions are true and uncomplicated. The air is clean. The foliage is green. The birds sing. The water quenches our thirst.

The main vocalist is Makaïa. The instrumentals interweave through the exquisite multiple harmonies struck by the chorus. The choruses of voices appeal to an inner communal sense, a sense of family, a sense of history, a sense of tradition. Communication is the focus of the music. The words of the songs communicate a form of the blues itself, a transcendent means to overcome trials of boundary and hopelessness, historically and in present times.

"We will find the way of our destiny!" the lyrics of "Annou Ale" go. "Chimen a dèmen nou ké touvé!" in Creole.

The poetry and the music always rise above the travail. Always.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Philippe Makaïa
  • CD Title: Makaïa
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Method Recordings/JFC Records
  • Musicians: Philippe Makaïa (vocals, boula and maké drums), Claire Billet (contrabass, vocals), Franck Courier (guitars, vocals), Pierre Chabrele (trombone, vocals), Alain Castaing (boula drum, vocals), Pablo Master (vocals), Bruno Harlé (flute, tin whistle)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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