NEW YORK – Haiti can offer a choice of over one hundred music Rasinn bands in all sounds and beats, including “voodoo-rock”, voodoo-jazz and Rara. One of the latest bands to emerge from that musical genre is Chaynanm. The band that is making its way strongly onto the Haiti national music scene.
In Haiti, Music Rasinn was for many years synonymous with Vodou, and was not well received by a segment of the society. Established in early 1980’s, it was inspired by the group Foula, followed up Boukman Eksperyans, Boukan Ginen, RAM, Azor, just to name a few. In a short period of time, Chaynanm has subsequently become one of the country’s most popular Rasinn groups, and audiences have regarded them as the best showcase of Haitian folk and Roots music, covering a variety of artistic forms.
This fifteen-piece percussion band features a throwback Rasinn sound with a splash of energetic, danceable beat. Chaynanm favors a grassroots approach to spreading their music: distributing free promo CD’s at concerts and encouraging fans to copy and share them. The music is a marvelous cross-section of Rara beats and World Music. Even if you know the rhythms already, though, Chaynanm gives them their own unique, live-drums twists that enliven the music and may even mask its familiarity. Lead singer Georges Regis Muller’s vocals, like the music, are soulful and impassioned. Each time you see them live, you get a sense of genuine exuberance from the band, a feeling of the love they have for the music, and a hunch that they would perform a great live show.
Much of Chaynanm’s repertoire is new, and represents a rich history. It is really a buzz to realize that their music is well embraced by the fans, and they are opening people’s ears to something they have never heard before: an all-percussion ensemble of music and dance. Chaynanm has been working intensively on their live shows. They tour and perform at festivals across the country and have been invited to represent Haiti in several international festivals in Ecuador, Canada, South Korea, Japan. They plan to make their US debut soon.
Last month, they were a hit at Musique en Folie. They could perform anything and make it sound good. Even if you don’t really like an individual song, you still enjoy the overall sound. This is what the band calls “groove rasinn.”
“I have always dreamed of having a super-talented percussion band that could fuse the straight, traditional Haitian sound with a more folk and world fusion feeling, keeping to percussion instruments,” said band leader Regis Muller. There are many differences between performing with a band and working solo. Master drummer Emmanuel explains, “Solo, I am more traditional, often playing for folk dancing. The solo aspect lies in the more direct contact with the dancers via the music, small variations in melody and timing. I love working on all these levels, they challenge me and I learn from them. I have got to the point where I believe in my own playing; standing alone on a stage, you are on the spot in a different way than if you also have to communicate with a band.”
Today, it is almost impossible to perceive the Haitian music Rasinn scene without Chaynanm. Wherever you attend their live performances, either at the French Institute, The Embassy of Spain, at FOKAL, or at the Embassy of Canada, they astonish you with their variety of colors, music and dance with their harmonic and marvelous drum sounds and there is ample reason to look forward to future performances.
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