Various Artists

Konbit: Burning Rhythms of Haiti

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Those whose entire impression of Haitian culture has been formed by media portrayals of a squalid, destitute backwater wracked with political violence may well be surprised by the great sophistication of Haitian pop music, which consists primarily of a style called compas: a unique blend of merengue, soca, jazz, salsa, and the local Carnival music known as "ra-ra." This collection, compiled by filmmaker Jonathan Demme, includes selections by the majority of Haiti's most important bands, including the excellent Tabou Combo ("Mario, Mario"), the Magnum Band ("Libete"), and the Ensemble Nemours Jean-Baptiste, represented here by a track recorded in 1960. The Neville Brothers join in on several numbers, including the reggae-inflected title track on which they collaborate with Les Freres Parents. The numerous highlights include Sanba Yo's propulsive "Vaksine!" and Nemours Jean-Baptiste's calypso-flavored "Tchoul No. 3."

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