Uncategorized — January 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Ye-de-gbe – The Compostions – Illustration by Bobby Carcassés





1) Reuniendo la Nación (Bringing the Nation Together) is based on the toque de la nación, also called the toque de la tiñosa. That’s the drum pattern you do at the end of the ceremonies, when everybody’s dancing in the cabildo with the flag of the cabildo, the flag that represents who they are. They dance in a circle, representing the Arará nation. This number doesn’t have any chants. I see it as empowerment. It opens with the drums, plus Val Jeanty, a DJ / sound designer from Haiti who brings her Haitian cosmogony with her. I hear ghosts in there. It’s contaminated with ghosts. Jason Moran and I, we’re just following them, weaving.

2) New Throned King is an arrangement of chants and drum toques for Asojano, who was known as Babalú in Yorubaland before he came to the Arará land, where the Arará people were expecting him. I tried to envision the patakín [story of the deities] of his coronation.

3) Walking Over Wave is dedicated to Afrekete, the vodun with a strong similarity to Yemayá. She’s motherly, she’s tender, she’s able to fish and feed the community, but at the same time she could be a big storm.

4) Laroko is one of the paths of Eleguá within the Arará tradition. These chants have never been heard in Cuba except in Matanzas. I wanted to capture the spirit of Eleguá, and I decided to do it very traditional, just voice and handclaps, then portray him as a trickster with the soprano sax.

5) Ojún Degara is the name of the old and famous cabildo in Jovellanos. They’re Arará Majino, a different group than Arará Sabalú. I decided to include knowledge from Ojún Degara as a way of incorporating something from their Maji tradition into the album. This is my arrangement of the song they sing at the beginning and close of their ceremonies.

6) Mase Nadodo) tries to portray the energy of the deity Mase, the vodun who is similar to the orisha Oshún. I had gotten to know Ishmael Reed from working together with Kip Hanrahan, and I invited him to contribute something to this song. He was a wonderful collaborator. He wrote a poem that makes a parallel with the women warriors from Dahomey called Minos. The piano arpeggios are trying to re-create the image of the river.

7) Thunderous Passage is a sequence of chants dedicated to Gebioso, with his power of controlling thunder and lightning. Gebioso is the Changó of the Arará, but this path of him is named Wadé, and doesn’t have a counterpart in the Yoruba tradition. He’s like Changó as a small kid, almost like an Eleguá. This is the only one I presented in its most traditional way without touching it at all, with only drums, to hear the tradition as it has been kept in Cuba.

8) Healing Power is a song for Asoyí, who is one of the paths of Asojano. It’s very different than “New Throned King,” which is based on a different path of the same deity. Here I’m concentrating on him as a powerful healer. The “horses” of Babalú, or Asoyí, or Asojano have the power to heal conditions you think are incurable.

9) Dance Transformation is dedicated to

Gebioso again, but now in the twenty-first century, and saluting a different path of Gebioso than the earlier one. Like his counterpart Changó,

Gebioso is the owner of the drums and the owner of the dance. The arrangement tries to capture his motion.

10) Ileré is “Ilé Iré,” which means the house

of joy. It was composed for the project by

Dean Badarou, from Abomey, Benin (historic Dahomey), who was a research consultant on the project. It opens the album up at the end to connect with present-day Benin, where I hope to travel. I didn’t use any specific Arará toque for this song. We decided to create something new in this rhythmic language after working with it so much. Since it was the last song, I used it to do an Arará moyuba, which is the salutation to the spirits and ancestors. In it, I’m asking my ancestors and all the ancestors of the cabildo for their blessing on this recording. I see this number this number as representing the joy and the depth that are always associated with the different African cultures. As everything combines, we realize that it’s a tradition that’s much bigger than ourselves, that exists and is going to exist for a long time. Yosvany Terry as told to Ned Sublette December 3,2013/New York City

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