Haitian Sensations

On the surface, it seems like Caribbean music’s answer to the Bible’s Isaac and Ishmael: konpa versus rara. The rhythmic battle continues between the horny, dancey frolic of the former versus frenetic beats of the latter. Those who partake of both at the annual Rasin Festival (rasin and racine being other words for rara, which is another word for roots) might dig deeper to the roots of both roots and konpa (or compas or compas direct).

Rara beats the African-influenced drum propulsively, as exemplified at this year’s fest by the bands Nu-Look, Djakout Mizik, and Krezi Mizik. Konpa, first popular in the Forties in Haiti and most notably advanced by the famed Nemours Jean-Baptiste, has been shaped by Dominican, Cuban, and other Latin styles, as well as jazz, the electrification of guitars, and saxophone. The genre gets its due this time around via Rev, Boukman Eksperyans, Raram, Kanpech, and Azor. The main music styles of Haiti -- accented by plenty of nonaural cultural offerings including food and handicrafts -- are celebrated today at Bayfront Park.
Sat., Nov. 3, 2 p.m., 2007


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