Haitian fusion band blends Vodou rock, reggae, hip-hop, and jazz

Three company: Trio Ginen Yo, comprised of saxaphonist Buyu Ambroise, electro-percussionist Val Jeanty and bassist Bobby Raymond, will be performing at the Brooklyn Museum on August 4.
By Allan Mednard

These tunes will cast a spell on you.

Fusing Haitian roots with a mix of Vodou rock, reggae, and hip-hop, and adding to a standard jazz trio a percussionist who performs a “gumbo of electronic music,” Trio Ginen Yo says their unique collaboration results in a musical triptych, inspiring a myriad of mystical responses.

What do they sound like?

“It’s different for everyone, people have said tribal rituals, a religious service, even seeing the color red everywhere,” said Val Jeanty, who performs on the synths, turntables, and a drum machine. “It’s like our one sound just makes everyone go.”

An infectious intensity is a trait each band member brings to the group.

“We all push each other so much,” said saxophonist Buyu Ambroise. “And when we all push each other to our limits, beautiful music is made.”

The trio’s combination of jazz improvisation — with Bobby Raymond on the standing bass — and Ra Ra tunes, or Haitian street festival songs, makes band members admit that their music is probably not for concert goers looking to dance or drink, but instead, listen.

“I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me after shows,” said Afro-electronic percussionist Val Jeanty. “And have said that it wasn’t what they were expecting. Yet they felt like they were in their ‘zone.’ ”

That should be perfect for the Brooklyn Museum’s upcoming Target First Saturday’s Caribbean themed night, as the trio will kick off the evening like a spark plug, getting the museum’s more antsy visitors to opt out of the offered reading, screening, and discussions, and primed to jump into the following dance party, driven by Latin DJs Beto, Mios Dio, and Thanu.

Trio Ginen Yo at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Crown Heights. (718) 638–5000. brooklynmuseum.org] Aug. 4, 5 pm Haitian music showcase, 8 pm dance party, free.

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