Joseph Mondesir, a native of French Guiana, has collaborated with Gilles Jonnais to preserve the traditional Creole of their country. On this album, he combines traditional music and updated technology to produce a beguilingly beautiful tapestry of sounds and rhythms. Music from French Guiana is composed of indigenous elements rooted in Africa, influences from Brazil, the French Antilles, and Creolized European dance forms brought by the colonial powers. It is a very rich mélange to draw from and Mondesir does it with a deft style and humor. "Domino" was a huge hit in French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Paris. It won the 1997 SACEM trophy in France for the best single. This album is filled with sensually laced dance grooves that come out of the heartland of a mysterious part of the world. The percussion is the dominant driving force behind the tracks. All of the instruments are played as percussion, but in a subtle way so that the grooves sway and seep into one's hips. The counterplay of the horns with the drumming makes for dense, tight, danceable rhythms. One can literally sense the hot steamy ambience of Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, on the tracks of this album. TonTon Joseph is a very evocative and well-produced album that is highly recommended.
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