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Ches Smith and We All Break

New York City-based ensemble blending Haitian rhythms and improvisational jazz

Armando Bellmas
Armando Bellmas
Ches Smith and We All Break

Today on Ecléctico you're listening to an ensemble assembled and led by drummer and composer Ches Smith. The group is guided by Haitian drumming and chants, and grounded in Smith's roots in New York City's improvisational jazz community. The results are uplifting and energetic.

You'll go deeper with an excerpt from and a link to an article on New York Music Daily.


"The Vulgar Cycle" by Ches Smith and We All Break
2021 | New York City-based ensemble blending Haitian rhythms and improvisational jazz


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While the group’s game plan is to break new ground, make no mistake, this music is meant to summon the spirits. Beyond the improvisation, this is a very collective effort, [drummer and bandleader Ches] Smith bringing in the instrumental parts, [tanbou drummer Daniel] Brevil contributing both original and traditional songs. They open the album with an understatedly joyous call-and-response over [pianist Matt] Mitchell’s hypnotically rhythmic drive in Woule Pou Mwen. [Saxophonist Miguel] Zenon adds balletesque flutter and exuberant wails in Here’s the Light, [Haitian singer Sirene Dantor] Rene and Brevil engaging in a punchy call-and-response that goes straight back to Africa as the drums do the same on the low end. The subtle shifts in syncopation behind Mitchell’s brightly cascading solo are artful: Dizzy Gillespie may have started all this a long time ago, but this is a brand-new variant.

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They close with [today's song,] The Vulgar Cycle, Rene and Brevil taking turns over a briskly galloping groove, Mitchell sprinting through a nimble series of cascades before Zenon takes over with a steely, rapidfire focus.

United StatesHaiti

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