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Mario Lucio

Kreol

Mário Lúcio’s new album Kreol tours seven countries and three continents, covering 92,482 kilometres to create its seventeen songs. It opens with the great a cappella pomp and ceremony of Na Capella, its traceries of almost religious vocals recorded in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, and mixed in Rio de Janeiro, the melting-pot capital, while its brief, delicate Sahelian finale captures the sound of the African desert sung with accompaniment from Malian soukou (violin) player Zoumana Tereta. Mali has no sea, simply the privilege of roots, yet “Creoles are orphans in a way”, muses Mário Lúcio, his contention supported by those great elder statesmen Franz Fanon, Leopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire. Kreol is superbly thoughtful: it does not overturn existing forms, but remixes them. Dedicated to the Atlantic Ocean, the “mother heritage of humanity”, this remarkably flexible, musical album is a quest for the Grail of “Creolisation”, which the West Indian writer Edouard Glissant defines as “ethnic fusion along with something else that can never be defined” or it will be lost. “Jazz,” adds the novelist in an interview with Mário Lúcio, “came from everywhere; not in an imperative, sudden way, but in the form of traces. Music needs links, roots; the challenge is to surpass them without making them disappear. Music must run the risk of diversity.” These Creole musical genres have not been “imperial”, imposed a set form, adds Glissant, they have underlined ideas of suffering. They have combined Catholic churches and pagan trance; produced beguine, bossa nova, salsa and son, blues, swing, rap, calypso, rumba, morna and coladera, etc. - all genres that have left their imprint on Kreol. On his journey, the writer and singer forged subtle bonds and sang - in Creole and Portuguese - with great names in Afro-Atlantic music: Ralph Thamar and Mario Canonge in Martinique, Toumani Diabaté in Mali, Pablo Milanés in Cuba, Teresa Salgueiro and Pedro Joía in Portugal, Milton Nascimento in Brazil and Harry Belafonte in the United States, before returning to Cape Verde with the help of Cesaria Evora. Born in 1964 in Tarrafal in the north of the island of Santiago, Mário Lúcio set off on this exploration of Creolity in 2009 “with a return home” - a stroke of luck, says the man born near the “hub of world ethnic fusion”: Cidade Velha, a city that began to trade in slaves in 1462, three centuries before Senegal’s emblematic Gorée Island. Peul and Wolof people were landed there to be christened and given a cotton loincloth as a sign of their radically-changed human condition. Some were shipped to the Americas, while others remained, but none could ever return home. So Cape Verdean DNA is made up of “Creolity”, exemplified by Mário Lúcio, an African militant for union in diversity. On his grandmother’s side, a slave family; on his grandfather’s, Portuguese colonists. On the cover of his previous album, Badyo, (Lusafrica), he appeared in his usual immaculate white suit with a large-linked chain instead of a tie. “To eliminate all hatred between Whites and Blacks, people of mixed race must recycle every symbol. So I took the chain that one group of my ancestors was forced to wear and the tie the other group wore voluntarily.” The music of the Republic of Cape Verde, a Sahelian archipelago with a home population of 500,000 and 700,000 expatriates, includes more genres than just the morna and coladera that Cesaria Evora from the island of São Vicente introduced to the world. As a child, Mário Lúcio learned to sing the finaçon, a poetic improvisation accompanied by African beats slapped out on legs or bales of cloth. “Near my home, there was Bibinha Cabral, who died in 1987; a small, shy woman who sang with her eyes closed, so giving lessons in philosophy. She was my Pablo Neruda.” Mário Lúcio’s first musical group adopted the alias (Abel Djasi) of the national hero of Cape Verdean and Guinean independence, Amilcar Cabral. His second band, Simentera, would be the Cape Verde’s first trans-island musical group. Mário Lúcio studied law in Praia and then Havana, in Cuba. Across the Atlantic, the lawyer and musician discovered Yoruba beats from the Gulf of Guinea, choral singing and Hungary’s Soltan Kodali and Bela Bartok. Returning to Cape Verde, he became a lawyer, then was elected as a member of parliament for the PAICV (the former PAIGC, which spearheaded independence) in 1996. Dr. Salazar’s Estado Novo had set up its penal colony for political prisoners from all over the empire in Tarrafal. After the 1974 “Carnation Revolution”, Cape Verde won its independence and turned the prison into a barracks. Aged 11, Mário Lúcio - a poorly-dressed kid born into a family of eight children - was then a public letter writer paid with eggs and chickens. Then a soldier discovered his poetic gifts and offered him schooling, food and lodging at the Tarrafal barracks. The place was a melting pot of Cape Verdean diversity with soldiers from every island at a time when only rudimentary means of communication existed in the archipelago. “All the people of Cape Verde came to me with their different ways of playing the cavaquinho (small guitar), violin and accordion, speaking Creole and weeping.” Véronique Mortaigne (Le Monde)

Other albums by same artist

Badyo

Mario Lucio-Badyo 2008-CD, ALBUM VPC, world music, lusafrica
12.00 €
LUSAFRICA 115 Rue Lamarck 75018 PARIS - lusafrica@lusafrica.com

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