"A life-affirming, joyous statement that will have you leaping up and dancing. I defy anyone to listen and stand still." - Sydney Morning Herald
"A Caribbean-Creole melting pot. A rich stew of Caribbean flavours." - The Guardian
"A landmark in Caribbean music." - NPR's All Things Considered
"A joy to experience. Stunning." - PopMatters
"Hooting horns from Haiti’s rara carnival tradition mix with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band; there’s percussion from all sides and an earth-moving bass." - New York Times
"A joyous combination of Haitian music of all genres." - Financial Times
"The opener, 'Renmen', is brightened by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with bursts of brass underlining the celebration of love, and a clarinet solo from Charlie Gabriel bubbling up like Mozart relocated to the Lower Ninth." - Financial Times
"One to play on repeat." - Songlines
"This is only Lakou Mizik’s second release, but it is as good a Haitian album as I’ve heard in years—adventurous, original, inspiring and a shot in the arm for anyone tempted to let life’s woes get them down." - Afropop Worldwide
The seed for Lakou Mizik’s second album, HaitiaNola, was planted in 2017 when the band was invited to play the legendary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It was an eye-opening pilgrimage to the mythical music city and the band members immediately felt a connection. The music, the food, the architecture all reminded them of home.
For those familiar with the history of Haiti and New Orleans, this makes a lot of sense. The Caribbean country and the Crescent City have deep historical connections. In 1791, Haitian slaves began rising up against their French masters and earned their freedom in 1804 after years of bloody rebellion. Thousands of refugees consisting of French colonists, freed people of color and slaves fled the turmoil of the revolution and ended up in the nearest French territory: New Orleans. This influx doubled the city’s population and forever changed its ethnic and cultural identity.
To this day, Haitian influences can be felt in the music of New Orleans. From the rhythms of the Mardi Gras parades to the swampy grooves of funk, echoes of this Haitian connection can still be heard in the sounds of the city. It can also be felt in the food, language, spirituality and so much more. One sunny day, when the musicians of Lakou Mizik found themselves walking down Frenchmen Street, they hatched the idea for HaitiaNola (Haiti & NOLA & Hispaniola = HaitiaNola).
A year later Lakou Mizik was invited back to Jazz Fest for the second time (a rare honor) but this time the focus was on the album and musical collaborations. New Orleans producer Eric Heigle, fresh off a GRAMMY win with his band Lost Bayou Ramblers and a role in the production of indie rock supergroup Arcade Fire’s latest album, signed on to produce the project. Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, longtime advocates of Haitian culture, offered to let the band use their private recording studio. Ben Jaffe, the director of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a New Orleans institution, gave Lakou Mizik additional time at their recording studio.
Even amidst the bustle of Jazz Fest, many in the New Orleans music community embraced the project and graciously made time in their hectic schedules to come jam with Lakou Mizik. The legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band added their timeless touch; master pianist Jon Cleary tickled New Orleans-style riffs over the band’s Haitian Vodou prayers; Lost Bayou Ramblers added heavy Cajun grit; Haitian-American singer songwriter Leyla McCalla brought spine-tingling cello playing; guitar maestro Raja Kassis (Antibalas) sprinkled his six-string magic all over the tracks; and The Soul Rebels brass band blew the roof off the studio. Soon after the NOLA sessions, Eric Heigle and Jon Cleary traveled to Haiti to record with Lakou Mizik at the Artists Institute in Jacmel. Over the next few months additional sessions allowed for more guests to jump in. Iconic figures Cyril Neville, Trombone Shorty and Anders Osborne, rising star Tarriona “Tank” Ball (Tank and the Bangas), NOLA institution King James (from the Special Men), even Win & Régine from Arcade Fire helped create the unique, culture-melding sound of this album.
The result of this collaborative gumbo is the album HaitiaNola, a sweaty celebration that manages to connect not only the rhythms and sounds of the two places but also the gritty energy, the unmistakable mysticism and the carefree Mardi Gras incantation of laissez les bon temps roulez (let the good times roll) that persists in both countries.
In Haitian Kreyòl the word lakou carries multiple meanings. It can mean the backyard, a gathering place where people come to sing and dance, to debate or share a meal. It also means “home” or “where you are from,” which in Haiti is a place filled by the ancestral spirits of all the others that were born there. With HaitiaNola, Lakou Mizik expands their lakou, to take in their cultural cousins and actual descendants in New Orleans. With music to lift them up, these two places have pushed through unimaginable tragedy in recent years. HaitiaNola celebrates this defiantly joyous spirit and the rhythmic roots that have connected them for more than two centuries.
Lakou Mizik is a multigenerational collective of Haitian musicians formed in the aftermath of the devastating 2010
earthquake. The group includes elder legends and rising young talents, united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength and hope to their countrymen and the world....more
"African, funk and rap influences combine in an energetic performance...in which the virtuoso kora work is integrated into sturdy playing from the band. Exuberant virtuosic fusion."- The Guardian Lakou Mizik