Meddy Gerville: Di Amwin
Meddy Gerville (vocals, piano, vox, percussion)
Fo Kronm la vi (MEA Records 2008)
Meddy Gerville (vocals, piano, vox, percussion),
Jim Celesin (saxes), Michel Alibo (bass), Laurent Lebeau (drums), Jerome Calcine (percussion), unnamed guests.
Composed by Meddy Gerville.
Recorded: released May, 2008
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
As new CDs arrive in my mailbox almost daily, they are usually accompanied by promotional materials explaining the album, listing the personnel and in general giving the potential reviewer background material on the artist, his past work and the theme of this new project. Much to my surprise, Meddy Gerville's latest release came to me in a plain brown envelope with a sleeved CD that had minimal information and to top it off it was all in French! You might think this would be detrimental to the artist getting a fair shake from a reviewer not based in Paris or Montreal, and you would be right – except in this case the music was so unusual and distinctly talented that it forced me to find out exactly who this Meddy Gerville is and what he is trying to communicate with his music.
It turns out Gerville comes from Réunion island, an outpost that lies east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. If anyone doubts the far-reaching and amazingly uniting force the jazz tradition has around the world, they need only listen to this compelling offering from the talented islander. It turns out Réunion is a veritable melting pot of ethnicities mixing French, Portuguese, African, Malayan, Indian and Chinese. The native born are coincidentally called Creoles, and Gerville skillfully conglomerates the multiethnic influences of his environment with rhythmically based music that keeps the melodic and harmonic sensibilities of the jazz tradition firmly in its grasp.
On his composition "Di amwin," Gerville's silky and lilting voice traverses the changing complex beats, dancing effortlessly in time over the changes à la Milton Nascimento. His keyboard is both accomplished and tasty and in perfect sync with his formidable vocal talents. I have no idea what he is saying, but that is hardly the point. His music is joyful and entertaining, combining elements of fusion with the execution of a virtuoso. If ever anything could be correctly called World Music, then surely this is it. With the rhythmic center maintained by a talented group of collaborators, Gerville's piano and vocals create a musically delicious feast. This is a voice and talent that will surely be more widely heralded.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello