Cranky Crow World, CD Review >>
By now readers of CCWM should be able to find the island Madagascar on a map since there are several Malagasy groups featured throughout this site. However, by no means would I expect readers of the site to grasp the complexity of Malagasy music. The descriptions of genres from the various regions of the island and the varying formats in which Malagasy music is performed could make anyone's head spin. However, sans the technical and historical information, Malagasy music provides ample opportunity to dance and celebrate life no matter what format its performed.
The group Jaojoby led by Eusèbe Jaojoby (the "y" is silent), literally electrifies Madagascan traditional music by featuring songs played in a traditional style, often in 6/8 or 6/12 rhythms on electric guitar, bass, keyboards and a drum kit. Lead vocalist and songwriter, Eusèbe, who just goes by the name Jaojoby, is accompanied by his wife, Claudine Robert Zafinera on vocals (lead vocals on Mitiadavia Vola), his son, Elie Lucas Jaojoby on lead guitar, and his daughters provide the dance portion of the live performance as well as, backup vocals. The group also includes musicians on electric bass, drums, rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion. And if that's not wild enough, guest musicians include, Prof Jah Pinpin (alto sax), Alain Chan on (tenor sax), Jèrome (trumpet), Lionel (trombone), Pascal Japhet (percussion) and the track, Mahore features Granmoun Lèlè and his family band on lead vocals and percussion. And while this album already calls for several explanation points in its description, imagine these musicians during a live performance. Whew! (Even the Energizer Bunny runs out of steam now and again).
Jaojoby performs a style of music called salegy that finds its roots back in the 15th century. The music accompanied possession rites and was performed for specific Malagasy ceremonies linked to the cult of their ancestors. It carries a hypnotic quality that derives from its frantic rhythm and is described in the liner notes as, "In Madagascar, Jaojoby's salegy is a dance that sets bodies on fire for the five hours or so that his concerts last, driving audiences into a state of trance." The singers shout over electric instruments and driving beats. Jaojoby mentions James Brown and Otis Redding as musical influences (press kit) and he also claims that his band has made salegy music sexy. And for fans of Afro-Beat and other Western pop-inspired African performers, Jaojoby will also satisfy that itch for rootsy Afro-pop.
The CD, Malagasy features 12 fiery songs that take off soaring and never seem to land. The songs feature love and social themes and are set to a groove that marries rock, funk and salegy rhythms. Some reviewers have used the words, "muscle" and "machine" to describe Jaojoby's performance and certainly, these musicians and dancers fall on the athletic side as is the case with many African music acts that I have witnessed in concert or heard on live recordings. There are no wallflowers in this group and Jaojoby's music takes front and center stage. www.worldvillagemusic.com, www.rockpaperscissors.biz 08/12/04 >> go there