CULTURE ET TRADITIONS
JEAN JEAN-PIERRE and the KISKEYA ORCHESTRA
I. Historical Notes
Founded in 1995 by drummer, composer and arranger Jean Jean-Pierre, the Kiskeya Orchestra is a 25-piece ensemble that combines classical, pop, and the best of Haitian and Caribbean traditional music, all percolating over a hot bed of excitedly syncopated island rythms. The Kiskeya Orchestra is the ancestral home of the Taino people where African and Europeans meet creating a vibrant sonic mélange.
The Kiskeya Orchestra surpassed itself in a sterling performance in May 2003 at Carnegie Hall, during the presentation Haiti: The Rythms, the Dances and the gods starring Danny Glover and Theresa Randly. The orchestra’s first CD, entitled 1804-2004 Happy Birthday Haiti, was released in January 2004 on Global Beat Records, Gary Topper is the conductor.
While it is irrefutable that the Perez Prado Orchestra, Benny More and the Sonora Matancera – all three from Cuba- were the best known large musical formations in the Caribbean to have influence in the 1950”s and 60”s most musicians from the area, in Haiti, the Issa El Saieh and the Jazz des Jeunes were the musical templates that inspired many generations of musicians.
Jean Jean-Pierre’s musical education came from these great bands, which could easily combine the sound of a Benny Goodman or a Cab Galloway with the plethora of Haitian rhythms, a result of a confluence of tribes from Africa. (According to the incomparable Haitian master drummer (Mapou) Azor, Haiti claims more than (95 rhythms and combinations of rhythms.)
Jean Jean-Pierre, though his series of annual concerts at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln
Center and recordings, uses the Kiskeya Orchestra as the vehicle to promote this music pioneered by those wonderful Haitian orchestras, a sound emulated all throughout the Caribbean.
Enabled by its vibrant human and musical mosaic, the Kiskeya Orchestra is poised to continue gracing the worlds’ most prestigious concert halls and stages.
. May 23, 2003: At Carnegie Hall, Haiti: The Rhythms, the Dances and the Gods, with actor/activist Danny Glover playing the role of Haiti’s independence precursor Toussaint L’Ouverture andTheresa Randle (Bad Boys 1 and 2) portraying Toussaint’s wife Suzanne.
- June 10, 2005: Replant Haiti the Concert at Carnegie Hall with hosts ator Danny Glover, actress Susan Sarandon and journalist Amy Goodman
- December 24, 2994: How Papa Noel forgot Haiti, starring Danny Glover. A Haitian Christmas story, it is a parable that finds its power in the dreams of a child
- October 2004: Billingham Festival, Billingham England
- August 2004: CIOFF – UNESCO, Folkloriada, Budapest, Hungary
- January 3, 2004: Carnegie Hall, New York, 1804-2004 Happy Birthday Haiti star studded concert featuring Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Erna Letemps, Jean Claude Eugene, The Mighty Sparrow, Keith-Designer Prescott, and a plethora of great performes. (Music by Kiskeya: The Haitian Orchestra of Jean Jean-Pierre)
- June, 2002: Rotary Club International, Les Cayes, Grand Bal Blanc, Music retrospective 60”s and 70’s
- December 29, 2001: Carnegie Hall, New York: a musical and dance production entitled The Haitian Community Salutes Our Heroes, provided a moving tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy
- September 26, 1999: Brooklyn college concert held with Kiskeya Orchestra to honor the life of the great Haitian artist Guy Durosie, who died a month earlier. A constellation of Haitian singers whose careers span stretched from 1946 to the present shared the bill
- July 28-30, 1995: A landmark International Roots Music Festival in Haiti with Celia Cruz, Boukman Exsperyans, Papa Jube with Wyclef Jean, Simbie (Sweden), Ram and a host of other artists, recording a live CD which received rave reviews in Rolling Stone.