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Ti-Coca, Toto Bissainthe

Ti-Coca, Toto Bissainthe /

In Haiti, the most "African" country in the Caribbean, the drums are the guardians of voodoo, while the rhythms and songs of the local troubadours keep the Black heritage alive. Ti-Coca and his musicians take us to the roots of the Merengue, a high-tech variation of which is played in the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The Haitian version is smoother and less jittery. Other local dances evoke the music of voodoo ceremonies, bringing them to the dance halls. Simbi the sea god and Dambala the serpent god celebrate a party together. Ti-Coca is a caribbean dandy with a voice reminiscent of some of the great Cuban voices of the past. Accompanied by accordion, double bass, banjo and drums, he sings with a band whose understated approach gently revives traditional musical forms in a way that is truly sensational. By including recordings of the late Toto Bissainthe, we pay homage to this grande dame of Haiti whose vocal improvisations enthralled audiences in the 70s.

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