The Vodou Jazz Ensemble combines Haitian drum, cello, reeds, brass, balafon and vocals into an awakening musical experience. Transfixing rhythms, impeccable phrasing, deep groove bass and transcendent melodies distinguish this powerful convergence of musicians at top of their craft. An arresting performance is delivered, cutting across multiple genres and centuries with improvisational arrangements, traditional songs and original compositions.
Driving the Vodou Jazz Ensemble is percussionist "Bonga" Gaston Jean-Baptiste and his mastery of the intricate Afro-Haitian rhythms derived from the Dahomey, Kongo and Ibo. Regarded as a master of the Haitian drum, Bonga has been studying since the age of seven. He has an extensive repertoire of Vodou rhythms and coveted techniques. An houngan, session player, accompanist and educator, he is also an expert drum craftsman. As a core member of the acclaimed Haitian outfits Boukman Eksperyans and Foulà, Bonga was invited to the U.S. in the early '90s when roots musicians were becoming a strong voice for the Haitian people. Since then he has continued to play solo and in ensemble. His drums opened the NY premiere of the Rolling Stones "Voodoo Lounge" tour and are prominently featured on recordings by Wyclef Jean and Salif Keita. Bonga is also a featured performer with Grace Jones and Urban Tap. For more on Bonga, visit www.bongamusic.com.
Rufus is one of the leading voices of the modern cello. He plays a self-designed 5-string electric cello as well as the gerhu, a cello-like instrument of China's erhu family. His rhythmic and sonic approach has led to collaborations with musicians from the Balkans, Ireland, West Africa, Greece and the Caribbean. Rufus has backed the great singers Aretha Franklin and Kasse Mady amongst others. He has performed at jazz, dance and world music festivals throughout Europe and the Americas. Rufus' cello was at the core rhythm section of Urban Tap, a company he toured with extensively. Rufus can be heard on cd recordings with The Paradox Trio, Labyrinth w/Ross Daly and Kif. Look for a major record release in the new year.
Originally from San Francisco, multi-horn player Peck Allmond has lived in NYC for ten years. Aside from leading and writing for his own jazz/world-music unit The Peck Allmond Group, he is an in-demand sideman on an unlikely number of different instruments: trumpet, flute, saxophones, valve trombone, and many other brass and reeds. His recording/performance credits include work with James Brown, Lenny Kravitz, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Sean Lennon, Don Cherry, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Peter Apfelbaum's Hieroghyphics Ens., Kotoja, Jai Uttal & The Pagan Love Orchestra, Craig Handy, Michael Blake, Ben Allison, Josh Roseman, O.J. Ekemode's Nigerian All-stars and others. Jazz legend Jackie McLean regularly performs several of Allmond's tunes in his own quintet, and has called Peck "a fiery young talent and true triple threat: trumpet, saxophones, and composition." Short Stories by the Peck Allmond Group was released in 2001 by Spirit Nectar Records.
Famoro Dioubate was born in 1965 in Conakry, Guinea to a griot family. He is the grandson of El Hadj Djelli Sory Kouyate a living legend of the Manden balafon. During his teens he spent five years in Abidjan working with Cheik Smith-Sherif and Sekou Camara Cobra. Back in Conakry he co-founded "Les Heritiers" with Sekouba Kandia Kouyate and recorded the albums "Kandia Dinke" and "Nyoumekela" with this group. Concurrently he was the understudy of his grandfather in the Ensemble Instrumental National and routinely performed for the President and visiting foreign dignitaries. He was a member of Mory Kante's orchestra for the performances and recording of the "Traditional Symphonie." In the early nineties, he was a member of the "Groupe Standard" which accompanied most of the visiting great stars of African music in Guinea. In the United States since the late nineties, he has worked as a independent musician for a variety of groups and dance companies in performances and recordings.
Tiga Jean-Baptiste is a multi-talented and accomplished young Haitian musician. Born into a family deeply rooted in traditional Afro-Haitian music, Tiga is continuing his family legacy, while embracing music of other lands. Tiga began drumming at the age beside his father Bonga, a master of the Haitian drum. He accompanied Bonga throughout the Haitian countryside, learning many different regional drumming styles. While in his early teens, Tiga studied jazz with renowned Haitian jazz saxophonist Thurgot Theodat from whom he quickly learned circular breathing technique that enhanced his skills on Haitian bamboo, tin horns (called vaksinn koné), didjeridoo. Within a few short years of picking up the Shona Mbira, Tiga exhibited such skill and mastery he caught the attention of Zimbabwe's greatest exponents the Shona mbira, Thomas Mapfumo and Stella Chiweshe with whom he performed and trained respectively. He has already established himself as an illustrious sideman and session musicians. To date Tiga has performed with Grace Jones, Urban Tap, Emeline Michele, Jon Legend, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Mozayik and Buyu Ambroise in addition to his core membership in Bonga & the Vodou Drums of Haiti. In 2000, he was invited to Japan with the Tet Kale Orchestra. Tiga is a teaching artist with the non-profit organization Global Kids and he been a featured accompanist with Pat Hall Dance, Urban Tap and Jean-Leon Destine. www.myspace.com/negtiginen