Haitian/Voodoo & Merengue






Generally unheralded, the music of Haiti bubbles away beneath the surface, only periodically erupting with tremendous force and influence. Haiti is known for its version of the popular Spanish dance, the meringue (merengue), as well as the sacred music elsewhere called "voodoo." The folk religion or cult of vaodoun (or vodun, corrupted as "voodoo") is distinguished by French, Indian, and African influences. A weird mix of the ancient/African and modern/Catholic, the cult of voodoo has been sensationalized as the stuff of horror movies and pulp fiction. Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Feast of the Mau Mau" may be the first example that comes to mind, but the music of voodoo has deeper and firmer roots. As with its counterparts in Cuba, Brasil, and elsewhere, the sacred music of Haiti depends upon special drums and other elements not found in profane music. Further along in the West Indies, Trinidad's Shango cult is closely related.

Voodoo music has had several champions, including Folkways' Harold Courlander. Dance-troupe leader (etc.) Katherine Dunham lectured at Yale on anthropology, was initiated into a vodun cult, and brought forth valuable music from the musty archives of academia. Afro-Caribbean Songs and Rhythms features vodun drums, très guitar, and Noro Morales. Her comprehensive, star-powered, and incredibly informative The Singing Gods album presents ethnomusicological subjects in as compelling and sophisticated a manner as possible. Featured Haitians are master drum-priest of the Rada-Dahomey cult Albert Laguerre and singer Jean Marie Durand. Graduates of the Dunham ensemble who recorded other vodun and calypso songs include Josephine Premice, Eartha Kitt, Jean Léon Destiné, and Jean Vincent.

One of the most famous Haitian musicians was Raymond Baillargau, known professionally as Ti RoRo (spelled variously: Ti Ro Ro, Tiroro, etc.), the acknowledged master of Haitian drumming and a rare professional in a land where everyone performs. "King of the Drum" in Haiti, his influence on American jazz percussionists was profound. His mastery can be found in solos and ensembles pieces on several, mostly obscure LPs, particularly those by orchestra leaders Issa El Saieh and Guy Durosier, the latter a popular singer.

Voodoo music exists also in such lurid cult movies as "I Walked with a Zombie." As Hollywood rode the recurring waves of calypso's popularity in the 1930s and the 1950s, voodoo inevitably provided the dramatic imagery. Some of this led to interesting pop songs. One such astounding, if camp, mix of voodoo themes with calypso (and Afro-Cuban songs), is Herb Jeffries' Devil is a Woman.

[Partly] Haitian/Voodoo/Shango 10" LPs

Rating
7Lord Burgess & his Calypso Serenaders; Stinson SLP-62 ("Folk Songs of Haiti, Jamaica, & Trinidad")
7Juan Campolargo: Merengues! Merengues! Merengues!; Sounds of the Caribbean SLP-740
7Juan Campolargo: Merengues Festival; Sounds of the Caribbean SLP-741 (one cut has falsetto yodeling)
7Choco & Chimi: Drums of the Caribbean; Audio Fidelity AFLP-902; 1955/1954 (Chocolaté--Antonio Diaz Mena & Chiminea; recorded in Mexico)
7Lolita Cuevas w/Frantz Casseus: Haitian Folk Songs; Folkways FW-6811; 1954/1953
7Maya Deren (recorded): Voices of Haiti; Elektra EK-LP 5; (c) 1953
8Jean Léon Destiné: Festival in Haiti; Elektra 30; 1955 (Jean Leon Destine w/Ti Ro Ro, Alphonse Cimber; booklet)
7Auguste Durosier/Louis Lahens/Orchestre Citadelle: Introducing the Sensational Ibo--Authentic Rhythm of the Haitian Meringue 10"; Musseau TV-25983 (w/Ibo drummer Rene Daure)
8Katherine Dunham & Ensemble: Afro-Caribbean Songs and Rhythms; Decca DL-5251; (c)1950
7Raoul Guillaume et son Groupe: Authentic Haitian Meringues; Monogram/Ritmo 827 (prod. Joe & Fritz G. Anson)
8[Michel Desgrottes et l'Ensemble du Riviera Hotel &] Raoul Guillaume et son Groupe: Authentic Haitian Meringues; Monogram/Ritmo 828 (label may be "Anson"--"Collection Haitian"--prod. Joe & Fritz G. Anson)
8Thurston Knudson: The Rhythm of Tropic Drums; Tempo TT-2212
8Thurston Knudson: Alibi for Drums; Tempo TT-2266 (w/Danny Stewart, Sam Koki, George Worth, Milt Holland)
8Rodolphe Legros & Ensemble Ibo-Lele: Weekend in Haiti--Haiti Latest Hits; Jacot [no #] (Hotel Ibo-Lele band rec. by J. Abraham & Co.; pressed by Decca)
8Rodolphe Legros & Ensemble Ibo-Lele: Weekend in Haiti--Haiti Latest Hits Serie II; Jacot [no #]
6Nago Queen Leotyne: Voodoo Priestess; Monogram 816 (w/Papa Jamil, drums)
5Augustine Mercer & his Jaragua Merengue Orchestra: The Jaragua Presents Merengues; Ritmo 805 (Dominican Republic; Latin/calypso/calypso jazz)
6Arthur Duroseau, his Family & Ensemble: A Night in Haiti--with Haitian Meringues; Monogram 824 (presented by Bill Vrooman; rec. M.M. Warner)
7Emerante de Pradines/Michele Dejean Group: Creole Songs of Haiti; Folkways FP-833; (c)1954 (see Emy de Pradines below)
8Issa el Saieh: Exotic Songs from Voodoo Haiti; Monogram/Supertone MLP-810 (prod. Manuel M. Warner)
7Angel Viloria y su Conjunto Tipico Cibaeno: Merengues 10"; Ansonia ALP-1 (canta: Dioris Valladares; "Folk Music of the Dominican Republic"; 1st Ansonia LP!)
7Angel Viloria y su Conjunto Tipico Cibaeno: Merengues [vol. 2] 10"; Ansonia ALP-2 (canta: Dioris Valladares; "Music of Santo Domingo")
8Uncredited: Haiti Dances; Atlantic ALS-123 (notes by Paul Bowles)
7Uncredited, w/Ti RoRo: Voodoo of the Caribbean; Monogram 815 (the 1 Ti RoRo cut has great spoken intro; rec. Lisa Lekis)
8Various: Calypso/Meringues; Folkways FP-8; 1950 (FW-6808; SF-12192; w/Duke of Iron "Druscilla"; Lord Caresser, Lord Invader, Macbeth, Felix & his Internationals, Jazz Majestic Orchestra)
7Various: Carnival in Trinidad 10"; Dial Ethnic Series 404 (Yoruba Cult: "Cooma-Chey-Wo-Leh"; Mighty Zebra & others at 1953 Carnival)
Various: Merengues from Dominican Republic Volume 1; Monogram (presuming there is a Volume 1 of the same title)
7Various: Merengues from Dominican Republic Volume 2; Monogram MLP-832 (Chapuseaux, Yayo el Indio..)
8Various: Let's Merengue with Six Top Caribbean Orchestras; Monogram Supertone 844 (jacket #: 845; Dominican Republic)

Haitian/Voodoo/Shango 12" LPs

Rating
7Nemours Jean-Baptiste & his Ensemble aux Calebasses: Meringue!; Cook 1186 ("the screaming end direct from a smoking Haitian dance dive"; full-size version of jacket art shared with Cook 1022)
6Nemours Jn. Baptiste & his Ensemble aux Calebasses: A Visit to Haiti; Seeco SCLP-9111
7Choco & his Mafimba Drum Rhythms: African Latino Voodoo Drums; Audio Fidelity AFSD-6102; 1963 (w/Chocolaté--Antonia Diaz Mena)
Chocolaté (drummer Antonio Diaz Mena) -- see also Latin Jazz
6Harold Courlander (ed.): Folk Music of Haiti; Folkways P-407; (c)1951 (FE-4407; Music of Haiti, Vol. 1; partly voodoo)
7Harold Courlander (recorded): Drums of Haiti; Folkways P-403; (c)1950 (FE-4403; Music of Haiti, Vol. 2)
7Harold Courlander (ed.): Songs & Dances of Haiti; Folkways P-432; (c)1952 (FE-4432; Music of Haiti, Vol. 3; partly voodoo)
6Maya Deren (recorded): Divine Horsemen--The Voodoo Gods of Haiti; Lyrichord LLST-7341 (original in red jacket, reissue in glossy black)
8Jean Léon Destiné: Festival in Haiti; Elektra 130; 1955 (Jean Leon Destine w/Ti Ro Ro, Alphonse Cimber; 1 more cut than the 10" but no booklet)
7Guy Durosier: Riviera Hotel d'Haiti Carnival with Guy Durosier; Island Artists LP-1004; 1957 (w/Ti Ro Ro)
7Guy du Rosier: Haitian Rhythms; Decca DL-8602; 1957 (w/Ti Ro Ro)
Guy Durosier: Been Travelin'; Carib LP-2019-S; 1962 (wanted)
7Verna Gillis (rec.): Vodun-Rada Rite for Erzulie; Folkways FE-4491; 1975
6Le Gip: The Voodoo Drums of Le Gip; Request/Sounds of the Caribbean SLP-737; 1972
7Richard Hill & Morton Marks (recorded): Ritual Drums of Haiti--Voodoo Trance Music; Lyrichord LLST-7279
7The Islanders: [The Black Beret Presents] The Islanders; BB-333
7Jazz des Jeunes: Saturday Night in Port-au-Prince Serie II; Palace PLP-100 (w/Ti Roro, Jean Remy, Rene Saint-Aude, Gerard Dupervil, Antalcidas Murat; same # as vols. 1 & 3)
7Jazz des Jeunes: Saturday Night in Port-au-Prince Serie III; Palace PLP-100 (w/Rene Saint-Aude, Gerard Dupervil, Antalcidas Murat; same # as vols. 1 & 2)
8Martha Jean Claude y su grupo de Calipso Haitiano: Canciones de Haiti/Haiti's Songs; Armada & Rodriguez ARO LP-131 (jacket: Songs of Haiti; Haitian/calypso/calypso-merengue)
7Andrew C. Pearse (rec.): The Big Drum Dance of Carriacou; Folkways Ethnic Library FE-4011; (c)1956
8Murat Pierre & his Orchestra, featuring Ti Roro: Saturday Night in Port-au-Prince [Serie I]; Palace PLP-100 (jacket: A Night in Port-au-Prince)
7Emy de Pradines w/Haiti Danse Chorus & Orchestra: Voodoo--Authentic Music & Rhythms of Haiti; Remington R-199-151; (c)1953 (see Emerante de Pradines above)
7Emy de Pradines w/Haiti Danse Chorus & Orchestra: Original Meringues; Remington R-199-206; (c)1953
6Les Princes de Port-au-Prince: Souvenir de Haiti; Request/Sounds of the Caribbean SLP-732 (ensemble folklorique)
9Issa el Saieh w/Ti Roro, Guy DuRosier, Ti Marcel, etc.: Hi-Fi Haitian Drums; Capitol of the World T-10110
7Ti Roro--"Best Drummer in Haiti"; Cook Road Recordings 5004; c.1956 (reissued w/different jacket)
8Ti Roro: Voodoo Drums of Ti RoRo; Monogram 830 (Ti RoRo et ses Tambours Vaudou/& his Voodoo Drums; Request/Sounds of the Caribbean SLP-733)
7Ti Roro et son Tambour; Ibo/Macaya 109 (Haiti)
7Ti-Roro/Ti-Marcel: Voodoo Drums in Hi-Fi; Atlantic 1296
8Jean Vincent/Alberto Socarras: The Soul of Haiti--Songs of Magic, Love, & Voodoo Ritual; Vanguard VRS-9015; 1957
6Uncredited: Roots of Haiti--Voodoo Vol. 2; Mini MRS-1064; 1978
4Uncredited: Voodoo Ceremony in Haiti; Olympic OL-6113; 1974 (rec. live on location)
6Various: CARIBEana; Cook Road Recordings 5003 (1 Ti RoRo cut unique to this LP)
Various: Haiti; Monogram 850 (Ti Ro Ro, etc.)
8Various: Haiti Confidential; Cook 1022 (smaller version of jacket art shared with Cook 1186
Various/Unknown: Haitian Meringues; Monogram 827 (may be same as Ritmo 10" 828)
Various/Unknown: Holiday in Haiti; Monogram 840
8Various: Saturday Night in Haiti; Monogram 856 (Guy du Rosier, etc.--probably TiRoRo; Nostalgie d'Haiti/Homesick for Haiti; Request/Sounds of the Caribbean SLP-748; 1973
Various: Shango Ceremonial Dances 10"; Dial Ethnic Series 403
Various/Unknown: Songs, Dances, & Drums of Haiti; Request/Sounds of the Caribbean SLP-8107
8Various: Voodoo Artistry from Haiti; AMC 1203; 1968 (w/Ti RoRo, Ti Marcel, Lucienne Pierre..; prod. Herby Widmaier)

Partly Haitian/Voodoo/Shango 12" LPs

Rating
7Costantino Albini e Daniela Casa: I Sentieri del Mondo--Dall'Alasca Alla Terra del Fuoco; Panda PL-1004 (production; Haitian/voodoo/Santeria/Brasil cult/drum music)
4Kip Anderson: Shango!--Night in a Quiet Village (exotic pop, "Shango"); Kapp KS-1466
Rupert Clemendore -- see Calypso Jazz
6Martin Denny: Exotic Love; Liberty LST-7585; 1969 (original: "Voodoo Love")
8[The Drums of Trinidad/Equatorial Jazz:] Drums of Trinidad; Cook 1045
8Katherine Dunham Presents Drum Rhythms of Haiti-Cuba-Brazil--The Singing Gods (w/Choco, Aguabella, LaGuerre..); Audio Fidelity AFLP-1803; c.1956 (4 Haiti cuts)
8Calypso Eddie with the Carib Islanders; Art ALP-19 ("Voodoo Drums")
6Bob Gordon's Troubadours at the Balmoral Club; Elite OE-30 (calypso/Haitian)
8Sir Freddy Grant's Caribbean Troubadours: Calypso; Bethlehem BCP-7001; 1957 (1st 1/2 of Side 1's "Carnival Suite"; rest calypso/calypso jazz)
9Johnny Gunn w/Don Ralke: Introspection IV; Warner Bros. WS-1372; 1960 (spoken w/music; WILD poetic narrations "flip-end vignettes")
7Richard Hayman: Voodoo!; Mercury SR-60147 (voodoo-themed pop)
7Geoffrey Holder & his Trinidad Hummingbirds; Riverside RLP-4004 (Shango)
7The Drums of Cyril Jackson: Afro-Stereo; Counterpoint CPST-5561; 1958 ("Banda")
8Herb Jeffries: Devil is a Woman; Golden Tone C-4066; c.1957
8Montego Joe: Arriba! Con Montego Joe; Prestige PRST-7336; 1964
8Montego Joe: Afro Rhythms; Kimbo Educational KLP-6060; 1970 (kid funk/African/Afro-Cuban/Brasilian/Calypso/Haitian/Santeria)
7Montego Joe/Marie Brooks: Ethnic Dances of Black People Around the World; Kimbo Educational KLP-9040 (kid funk/African/Afro-Cuban/Brasilian/Calypso/Haitian/Santeria; 4 treatments of 8 cuts from KLP-6060)
5Pierre Noles: Everybody Dance the Ay Bo Le; Coral 757447 (Haitian dance rock)
7Olatunji: Drums of Passion; Columbia CS-8210 (w/Chief Bey, Montego Joe; also some subsequent LPs)
The De Paur Chorus: Songs of New Nations--with Native Drums & Percussion; Mercury SR-90382 (cond. Leonard de Paur)
5The De Paur Chorus: Danse, Calinda!--Creole Songs, Work Songs, Spirituals; Mercury SR-90418; 1965 (cond. Leonard de Paur; prod. Harold Lawrence; w/Robert Guillaume)
9Josephine Premice: "Caribe"; Verve MG V-2067; c.1956
7Josephine Premice Sings Calypso; GNP Crescendo GNP-24; c.1957
6Marshall Stearns (rec.): Religious Songs & Drums in the Bahamas; Folkways/Ethnic Folkways Library FE-4440; 1953
8Robert Farris Thompson, Jr.: Safari of One--Primitive Rhythms on African Thumbpianos & West Indian Drums; SMC Pro-Arte SMC-1058 (w/Kako)
7Andre Toussaint and the Caribbeans; Bahama Records Ltd. 20; 1956 (calypso/Haitian-voodoo/Latin)
8Don Tracy: A Night with the Voodoo Family; EMI Studio 2 106; 1965 (voodoo-themed exotica w/Afro-Cuban drums)
7Uncredited/Various: Dance Party; Monogram 609 (or Paragon 609; 2 meringues)
6Uncredited (General Electric): G-E TropiCruise; GE 9887-55 ("TropiCruise in Music & Sound"--spoken w/sounds/"Themes from Your TropiCruise Ports of Call"--music; "Haiti")
7Uncredited: Percussive Calypso; Oleander OLP-103 (instrumental/calypso jazz/bongos/voodoo; Bermudan; prod. Al Donahue/Frank Walsh; possibly features King Trott/Stan Seymour/Lloyd Simmons)
8Various: African & Afro-American Drums; Folkways FE-4502 (2-LP compilation)
5Various: Bomba!--Monitor Presents Music of the Caribbean; Monitor MFS-355 (Vaccines Petionville: "Ra Ra No. 2"; Trio Chanteclair: "Choucounne")
7Various: Calypso Jazz; Cook XX-2 ("Incantation")
7Various: Caribbean Dance Party; Gateway GSLP-3544; 1977 (Ti Emile, Gramacks, Johnny Grey, Black Affairs, Gilles Sala, Puissance 8)
7Various: Caribbean Festival--Music of the West Indies; Puerto Rican Visitors Bureau E2-KP; rec. Lisa Lekis; w/Ti RoRo, Michel Dejean)
6Various: Folk Sounds of Trinidad & Tobago; Folk Sounds FSS-1; 1967
7'Round Nassau Town [We Did Roam]; Island Artists LP-1009 (compilaton/sampler; Johnny Kemp, Vincent Martin w/Peanuts Taylor, Jimmy Thurston & George Moxie, Guy Durosier, Jesus de Jerez)
6Various: Sweet Richard's Limbo Party; Carib LP-2013; 1960 ("Sweet Richard with Princess Kitty at the Place Pigalle on Miami Beach"; Tony Allyne, Guy Durosier: "Letter from Haiti," King Eric & his Knights, Sweet Richard's troupe, Pat Rolle, Roy Shurland, Andre Toussaint: "Haiti Cherie")
6Various: Three Rituals; Cook 1043 (Shango Sacrifical Ritual from Trinidad, Yemenite Nightsongs, Tumba Francessa)

[Partly] Voodoo 45s/EPs

Rating
7Guy Durosier: Riviera Hotel d'Haiti Carnival with Guy Durosier EP; Island Artists EP-1004S-45; 1957 (w/Ti Ro Ro; volume 1)
7Guy du Rosier, Michel Desgrottes, Lee Dickens: Riviera Hotel Presents Souvenir d'Haiti EP; Riviera Hotel
8Various: Authentic Caribbean Music--Haitian Songs & Drums; Alcoa Steamship Company MEP-131 (w/Ti Ro Ro; rec. by Lisa Lekis; good liner insert; the Ti Ro Ro & 2 other cuts are also on a Monogram 10")


Jean Léon Destiné

Dance Performances

"National Folk Festival" -- Washington, DC; 1941
"Bal Nègre" -- Katherine Dunham, NYC; 1946
Bambu -- Mexican film short; c.1947
"Troubled Island" -- NYC Opera; 1948
"Troupe Folklorique Nationale" -- Haitian Exposition Internationale; 1949
"Troupe Folklorique Nationale" -- Haiti Week, NYC; 1951
[Two Haitian dance companies] -- Caribbean Festival, Puerto Rico; 1952


Katherine Dunham

Early Dance Performances

Tropics and Le Jazz Hot (New York's Hotel Windsor)
Tropical Revue
Carib Song; 1945
Bal Nègre (w/Jean Léon Destiné); 1946
Mambo -- motion picture; 1954

Dance Company Graduates

Jean Léon Destiné
Eartha Kitt
Josephine Premice
Jean Vincent

Reading

Maya Deren: Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti; Dell; 1951 (also film, 1978)
Katherine Dunham: Thesis for Master's Degree; University of Chicago
Katherine Dunham: Journey to Accompong; Henry Holt & Co.; 1946
Katherine Dunham: "Ethnic Dancing," Dance Magazine; Sept., 1946
Reminiscences of Katherine Dunham (taped interview by Dorothy Demby); 1981 (excerpted in "The Yoruba Orisha Tradition Comes to New York City"; African American Review, Summer 1995, Vol. 29, Issue 2, pp. 201-7)
Eric Leaf: Isles of Rhythm (K.D. foreword, several quotes); 1948


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