Two powerful musicians join forces in Heritage
On Thursday, at the Anchorage Hotel, history will be created as one of the greatest local collaborations between two local artistes, who have excelled in their own genres, converge to launch their 10-track recording aptly titled Heritage.
Fitzroy Williams, a genius in his own right, one of the fore-fathers of cadence music and an extraordinary keyboardist in the Creole world, combines his signature touch and writing talent to one of this year's National Cultural Council special recognition awardees and most dominant calypsonian ever in Dominica's history.
Dice, who is undoubtedly on his way to Golden Drum award fame not too long from now, displays his versatility throughout the album as he smoothly makes the subtle transition from Cadance to Calypso, the fore runner. The simple CD jacket cover concept by Jawanza Stuart tells a story of a receding cadence as Fitzroy's photo is in the background as someone who passes the relay baton to this generation-King Dice, hoping that the beat goes on and is not forgotten.
This is exactly what Heritage asks us to do in track one, Oubli lest we forget the voyage and the Haitian influences which help shape the Dominica -created Cadance which paved the way for many of the influences and French interpretations we now enjoy. In Baway yo a call goes out for the realization, identification and preservation of our music.
Interesting anecdotes from the streets about life's its ups and downs are regurgitated in En la ri la punctuated by the rap of David Williams, the son of music maestro Fitzroy Williams, the main producer of this project.
Heritage, the title track, which I have fallen in love with, is a tribute to Jeff Joseph in particular and, as the cover jacket indicates, the late Cooky of Exile One fame, Bobby and Loftus Emmanuel, all musical and childhood brethren of main producer Fitzroy Williams. Lead vocalist King Dice calls on the entire French speaking world in Crier, in true Jeff Joe style and takes the opportunity to remind patrons of some of the hits spewed out by this iconic Cadance legend: La vie Disco; Soucouyant; Debar and Imagine.
The adoration of the trials of motherhood, giving suck and caring for their young into adulthood, is nostalgic: "Indeed she's beautiful" Dice sings in English to the creole repertoire Ti Moun Mwen which is well positioned on the release as it foreshadows a haunting sax and keyboard introduction where Dice's intonation and inflexion demonstrates his creativity in Shagrin.
This song is reminiscent of what Rah Peters did years ago with WCK; seemingly is a drunk reminiscing on what could have been, if he were not shunned by his mistress. He drowns sorrows, worries (gwo pwel) and cares of this world and trades it for a good time Jodi mwen pa melee. David Williams is again called to toast on this one-a wonderfully arranged piece.
Meanwhile, Chinwa is a socio-political commentary tracing the development of colonial powers from Europe to America and now Chinwa. The commentary seeks to unearth the evolution of blacks speaking patois/Creole to Chinese- visions of colonization…perhaps. Insightful, thought provoking despite its infectious rhythm, something that a calypso writer such as Pat Aaron would typically explore.
La vie sa la this time penned by Dice himself, brings to the fore the hardships, untrustworthiness of man, twist and turns of life, falling rain versus blazing sunshine. Philosophical. Yet one is still called upon, in spite of it all, to hold on- Cheben.
Vakabon speaks for itself; it represents all the negatives that paint such a picture from the clothing to character. Meanwhile, Crize is the cynical title given to today's economy. Not much argument there.
The final number, written by Cornel Phillip and Carlyn Xavier- Phillip, lead vocalist of Fanatic (1st runner up in last year's NCCU's Cadance contest and one of six local winners of the 2013 CARICOM song contest) does her Soca thing after serving as background vocalist on all nine other Cadance tracks. What is interesting about the arrangement is the collage/ fusion of other genres; pop, Bouyon, and even the vocal combination with Dice in Let's Dance is interspersed with some Creole- patois.
Well, I certainly enjoyed this preview of Heritage; it not only features the island's best instrumentalist; Fitzroy Williams and Cornel Phillip on keys, Fred Nicholas on bass, Jerry Moulon and Chad Augustine on guitars. But the vocal abilities of King Dice, a calypsonian showing his versatility, combining with Fitzroy and Freddy of the 70's to do justice to this project, is nothing short of phenomenal.
The added guitars of Joel Cadou, to what is promoted as the Heritage Band coupled with the talents of Jussi Paavola on saxes and flute as well as Dominica's youthful keyboardist, who represents the next generation of sound engineers, Dada Lawrence (who is accredited in the production of La vie sa la) demonstrates that no stones were left unturned to present the best of the Nature Isle.
These musicians have worked hard to make this a collector's item, which, by the way, was recorded at Imperial Publishing and Home Alone studios. The CD will also be distributed in Canada and New York via Mano John and Roy Mason respectively. This is another attempt to keep the pulse of cadence alive and it also represents a true heritage of what was, and what still can be in the musicianship of Fitzroy Williams and the vocal prowess of King Dice.