|Ernest Wiehe (left) - Philip Thomas (right) (source: L'Express)|
The name “Mauritius” usually conjures image of a tourist paradise with sandy tropical beaches, never ending fields of sugarcane, , sega dancers, rum cocktails, gateaux-piments, dhal puree and spicy curries. A multi-cultural country with a mixture of people originating from Asia, Africa and Europe … however, Mauritius is rarely associated with Jazz. Being a “jazz” musician in Mauritius means most of the time playing Hotel California and other chestnuts to entertain hotel guests around the pool or the barbecue. And don’t try to be inventive with those songs, play them straight, we don’t want our tourists to be unsettled by adventurous versions of familiar tunes. Not the most exciting environment for a creative musician and it’s not surprising therefore that many Mauritian musicians choose to emigrate to UK, France, Australia or South Africa to try to make a career.
Despite this situation, there is a small group of dedicated jazzmen living in Mauritius. They don’t make a living playing jazz, they do have other jobs: they may teach, many work the hotel circuit but when they decide to get together and play jazz, they can really swing. The catalyst of this small jazz scene was for a long time the saxophonist, composer, arranger, educator Ernest WIEHE (pronouced "Vee-Hay") who died on June 3, 2010 after a courageous battle with cancer.
He was 66. Wiehe had performed with his quintet just weeks prior to his death.
After studying Architecture in South Africa, Ernest attended Berklee in Boston and graduated in ’73. After finishing his studies, he became a Berklee faculty member, founded the Boston Jazz Orchestra, and played freelance gigs with Cab Calloway, among others. In 1978 he returned to Mauritius and supported his musical endeavors by selling his impressionist paintings and working as an architect. He drew on the sounds of his Indian Ocean island country to create a musical style that integrated jazz with Indian, Creole, and European elements of the Mauritian culture. Additionally, Wiehe scored the film Benares; released several self-produced albums; and penned arrangements for the Cambridge, MA, ensemble Pocket Big Band and for Belgian saxophonist Steve Houben a.o.
This album was recorded in 2002 and features an all-Mauritian jazz ensemble playing compositions by Ernest Wiehe and his arrangements of standards.
Didn’t say (Neto Masa 91082-2)
Ernest Wiehe 10-piece Jazz Ensemble : Philippe Thomas, Georges Reed (tp) Ernest Wiehe (ss,as) Jean-Noël Ladouce, Ludovic Matombé (ts) José Thérèse (bar) Belingo Fato (p-1) Noël Jean (p-2,synt-3) Ricardo Thélémaque (synt-4) Gino Chantoiseau (b) Christophe Bertin (d)
Recorded in Ernest’s home in Ferret-Mapou, Mauritius, between November 2001 & March 2002
1. Oliver’s dance
2. Love is here to stay
4. Didn’t say
5. Karlo’s bucks
6. Stolen moments
7. Thanks G.T.
8. Workshop blues
9. Sweet poison
10. Unexpected feelings
11. All the things you are
World-class exciting modern big band! Very highly recommended and, to the best of my knowledge, not available anywhere else on the blogsphere. Give it a listen!
Ambiance de tonnerre, en cette soirée du 14 novembre, au Conservatoire François Mitterrand, pour le lancement de “Didn’t say” du jazzman mauricien, Ernest Wiehe. Le groupe, composé uniquement de Mauriciens, a fait vibrer le public au rythme des “ten pieces” qu’il a proposés. En effet, la salle était pleine à craquer. L’organisation a même dû faire provision de chaises supplémentaires pour permettre aux fans de jazz de savourer de l’authentique musique. Accompagné du célèbre trompettiste Philip Thomas, que Wiehe qualifie “d’irremplacable”, et d’une brève mais remarquable apparition de Berlingo Faro, le pianiste le plus renommé de l’île,
I was very lucky to attend this memorable concert.
Ripped from my original CD. Link in the comments (320 + cover scans) .