Haiti, to the rhythm of jazz
The Fondation Haiti Jazz will hold the eighth edition of the Festival de jazz de Port-au-Prince. From January 18 to the 25th, with 26 foreign and local groups, Haiti will be filled with the rhythm of jazz and immersed in a diverse musical universe. Le Nouvelliste interview the Fondation’s Executive Director, Milena Sandler Widmaïer.
Publié le 2014-01-16 | Le Nouvelliste
Le Nouvelliste (LN): What should we expect in this year’s program?
Milena Sandler Widmaïer (MSW): The program this year is full of surprises and discoveries.10 countries will be represented, each with its own interpretation of jazz. The festival will open with Sandra Nkaké from Cameroon; we will discover Willerm Delisfort, a Haïtian-American pianiste, and Canadian singer Julie Michels. At the local level, we expect the Haitian jazz greats such as Claude Carré, Reginald Policard and Mushy Widmaier, as well as newcomers such as the trio Bémol, Melo Jazz and pianist Joshua Alexis. We will also have artists like Luck Mervil and James Germain, Darlene Desca, Nadège Tippenhauer, and Follow Jah.
LN: In the last few additions, we found that the festival offered the opportunity to listen not only jazz but other musical styles, which does not meet the expectations of some fans. Why this desire for diversity?
MSW: Indeed, with the presence of James Germain, Follow Jah , Luck Mervil of Darline Desca or Sandra Nkaké , the Jazz Foundation Haiti creates an opening to highlight the diversity of Haitian music and that of other countries. We seek to make the festival more accessible, to enable a wider public to discover jazz. We try wherever possible to balance between traditional jazz, Creole jazz, jazz fusion, etc.
LN: In addition to the Ministry of Culture, you have the support of the Ministry of Tourism. What does this mean for you?
MSW: The Ministry of Tourism has partnered with the festival for several years, but it's true that this year its involvement is much greater. Indeed, the ministry helped us to bring seven foreign media outlets that will cover not only the festival but also participate in excursions in Port au Prince, on the Côte des Arcadins, Jacmel, and Cap- Haitien.
LN: With the involvement of this sector, how do you intend to sell the country?
MSW: Several other countries in the Caribbean have jazz festivals which help to attract tourists fleeing the winter weather. The goal of the Haiti Jazz Foundation is to have tour operators specializing in the Caribbean and in event tourism to include the PAPJAZZ on their list.
LN: What is the budget for this edition?
MSW: 9, 000,000 gourdes - managed by the Foundation, including 2,000,000 from the Department of Culture budget and 1,000,000 from the Ministry of Tourism. The rest comes from private institutions and sponsors. The contribution of foreign embassies is about 115,000 USD.
LN: Concerts, after-hours and workshops will be free. Does this approach align with your vision of democratizing jazz, to change the style and broaden its audience?
MSW: Absolutely. Since its inception, the Foundation and its partners wanted this festival to be democratic. The idea is to introduce this music to the widest possible audience.
LN: What are five international media that will cover the event?
MSW: We expect RFI ( Laurence Aloir come from Paris for the occasion), Sorties Jazz Nights (a Quebec site specializing in jazz) Le Devoir du Québec, WWOZ ( Radio station in New Orleans) and a freelance journalist who will write reports for Caribbean Beat magazine, the official magazine of Caribbean Airlines, and two music publications: All About Jazz and Revivalist. Two foreign video crews will follow the event for a potential documentary about the festival and a later broadcast on France Television.
Article by Rosny Ladouceur
Translated from Le Nouvelliste
by Kristine Belizaire