The 1960s and 70s were a golden age for Caribbean music. Deep roots and local styles--traditional and popular alike--collided with youthful energy and electric guitars‚ making for vivid and exciting new sounds. The collection documents a previously-under-anthologized flowering and interchange of musical ideas and energies that occurred in the French Antilles--Martinique and Guadeloupe; neighboring Haiti--offering some sizzling dance styles‚ unforgettable rhythms‚ and uniquely virtuosic playing.
The tracks collected here evince some inspired blends and weaves of sounds‚ drawing from the likes of hot and swinging big band compas‚ complex ti-bois patterns played on bamboo percussion‚ the deep call and response of the vocals and big drums in the gwo-ka central to Guadeloupian Afro-roots folkways. The venerable‚ jazz-drenched beguine of Martinique arrives updated and streamlined for modern times‚ with funkier groove‚ thicker soloing from the horns‚ and rumbling electric bass underpinnings. Crucial and visionary artists and bands such as Velo‚ Michel Godzom‚ Simon Jurad‚ and Les Leopards‚ all revered at home‚ albeit little-known beyond‚ are represented‚ as is the pan-African super group Ry-co Jazz‚ who‚ with Manu Dibango aboard‚ helped spread these sounds around the globe.

Indeed‚ the music showcased here never really went away‚ and it eventually became the rootstock for the digital-sheened Zouk of the 80s and 90s. Going back to the earlier sounds is very satisfying‚ however. There is a definite surge of joyful and energized cultural identity at the heart of most of this music. The excitement and sense of discovery that sizzles from‚ for example‚ Les Loups Noirs de Haiti's "Jet Beguine‚" with its rubber band electric guitar lines‚ mod combo organ‚ and super-charged rhythms‚ is undeniable. This is music made by musicians journeying along old and new roads‚ without maps or rules‚ guided by unerring musical instincts and first-hand local wisdom.