AZAKA - Ayizan, Azouke and Yatande Sanon
Harry Ayizan, Gregory Azouke and Jude Yatande Sanon are signers, guitarists, composers and percussionists steeped in the traditions of Haitian folklore and honed by the streets and music scene of New York.
As pioneers of mizik rasin (roots music) in the 70’s they played in Lobodja and Foula forming “music styles that crossed the indigenous Vodou and Rara based music with the codes of commercial pop music” (McAlister, Elizabeth “Rara”) and in Sanba Yo were “a more traditionalist counterpart to Foula’s avant-garde Vodou-jazz”. (Averill, Gage “A day for the Hunter, A day for the Prey”) In New York they formed Vodoule and AZAKA, electrifying crowds from Louisiana to Washington as they toured with the Rolling Stones.
Individually they have played and recorded with prominent Haitian Rasin-pop acts including Boukan Ginen and Loray and have toured in Japan, Holland, Trinidad, Cuba & Brazil. Currently AZAKA is playing on radios in Port au Prince and New York.
Azaka will sweep you out to sea and move you like the waters surrounding the island home of this music and the Sanon Brothers who transport you. Dance you will in this rhythmic and lyrical whirlpool of pulsing Haitian roots music, contemporary rock and the poetry of troubadours.
Harry Ayizan Sanon
The plight of the Haitian people is no secret, and Ayizan is no stranger to the struggles or to the strength of his people. Ayizan has always been a strong lyrical and rhythmic voice, urging his people to educate themselves, open their eyes and insist on justice. He was dubbed Ayizan by fellow musicians in his native Port au Prince, Haiti. Ayizan is the name given to the woman responsible for the earth's secrets in the Vodou cultural tradition. This name also symbolizes the palm tree and the Haitian flag.
Ayizan has been playing drums for as long as he can remember (with time out for playing profesional soccer). In the 1979's he played with a kanaval group called Lobodja in the streets of Port au Prinnce. In 1979 he and his brother Azouke began exploring the far reaches of their country and its deep and varied musical and cultural traditions. The brothers were involved in the formation of the groups Foula and Sanba Yo. The music they played was a fusion of traditional music, jazz and folk/rock, pioneering Rasin (Roots) Music. Since leaving Haiti, they have continued their work in the US, primarily in New York. They created a group called Vodoule with which they toured from the Louisiana Music Festival to New York and as an opening band for the Rolling Stones in Washington, D.C.
AZAKA evolved as a vehicle of expression. The music of AZAKA preserves the rich and hypnotic percussion music of Haiti, blending in soulful Pan-African funk. With the addition of modern instruments, AZAKA brought the Vodou culture to the stage in an electrifying and danceable performance.
Always in demand for projects requiring percussion, Ayizan has worked, among other things, with Benice from Sweet Honey and the Rock, The Smithsonian Institution on a CD called Roots of Rapture and at Carnegie Hall for the celebration of 200 years of Haitian independance.
Currently Ayizan lives in western Massachusetts and writes and performs poetry and music and teaches Haitian drumming. He is in the studio now realizing an exciting new project. Stay tuned!