Nov 29, 2018
“Voodoo” as a term brings to mind New Orleans witches, animal sacrifices to raise the dead and other bogus representations of a serious spiritual following. With Spiritwalker, a wonderful mix of jazz, Haitian folk, hip-hop and dance music, Haitian-American singer-songwriter Malou Beauvoir goes a long way to setting the record straight about “Vaudou”. And you can dance to it!
First a businesswoman, then a singer-actor, Ms. Beauvoir came to the spiritual practice late in life, when she learned at the feet of her uncle Max Beauvoir, a biochemist and high-ranking Vaudou priest, who ushered her into the island’s profound spiritual traditions. She considers herself a natural Vaudou priestess or mambo, a word that implies an ongoing quest for knowledge in the Vaudou belief system.
Wisely taking her musical sensibilities to the studio with a multicultural band, the results are in many ways not categorizable. There are musicians with Haitian backgrounds (multi-instrumentalists Chico Boyer, Cheff Loncher; and Paul Beaubrun; percussionists Sirgo Decius and Jean Guy Rene), as well as from Cuba (pianist Axel Laugart), Japan (pianist Yayoi Ikawa, guitarist Hiroyuki Yamada) and the U.S. (guitarist Jon Gordon, bassist Calvin Jones, and Haitian-American drummer Gashford Guillaume). With Malou taking the vocal leads, Spiritwalker becomes a short (36 minutes!) but deeply enjoyable musical journey.
Podcast 468 is my conversation with Malou Beauvoir, and we take a fair amount of time talking Vaudou and her background before we dig into tracks from Spiritwalker, including "Simbi Dlo”and “Rasenbleman.” The album’s closing track, a jazz take on the Haitian classic “Papa Damballah” was originally recorded for her 2016 album Is This Love and features a more traditional jazz sound, supplied by Andy Ezrin (piano), Ben Whitman (drums, percussion), David Finck (bass) and Bobby Mann (guitar).