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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for February 28, 2020: Passing of Frisner Augustin

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Passing of Frisner Augustin

 (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Frisner Augustin (March 1, 1948–February 28, 2012) was a major figure in Haitian Vodou drumming, the only citizen of Haiti to win a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in the United States.

As a young man he was a prodigy on the traditional Haitian Vodou drums in ritual. He took to the modern stage, exploring the conversation between his tradition and  jazz styles. (In Haiti this included Lina Mathon Blanchet, Jacky Duroseau, and Jazz des Jeunes; in the United States and Europe, Kip Hanrahan, Edy Brisseaux, and Andrew Cyrille.)

Frisner Augustin's Mardi Gras Band, c. 1965

Master Drummer Frisner Augustin (holding large drum in center)
with the Mardi Gras band he organized in his youth in the
Portail Léogane district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
(Public Domain/Wikipedia)

 He founded his own ensemble, La Troupe Makandal, in 1981. He focused not only on making music, but also on educating popular misconceptions in the public mind regarding Haitian Vodou.

To commemorate Frisner Augustin, let's play some of the basic groove/ostinato parts from the Haitian rhythm Ibo, as he taught it.

Today's Video Lesson

If you are interested in Frisner Augustin and the Vodou drumming/Jazz crossover, you can subscribe to The Frisner Augustin Memorial Archive on YouTube. In particular I recommend the Congo Square, Where Jazz and Vodou Meet performance from February 10, 2000:

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