Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: NEW YORK
|Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:29 pm Post subject: JACKY AMBROISE OF STRINGS!
|Jacky Ambroise of "Strings"
Interview conducted by Patrick Desvarieux
1) Jacky, what has Strings been up to these last few months in terms of touring?
JACKY: We started the year with a performance at the MIDEM 2000 in Cannes,France. Not too long ago, for the 4th of July, we were invited by Don King and Paniagua Productions to perform at the Bayfront Park in downtown Miami with the Tito Puente Orchestra, Harold Melvin and the Blue notes. A couple of months before that event we played for a second time at the SOB's in New York, the Best Western in Long Island with French singer Claude Barzotti, then the James L. Knight Center with Claude Valade and Claude Barzotti.We also were invited to perform at the Roots and Culture Festival in Little Haiti.
2) Is there a new CD in the works? If yes, when do you see it being released on the market?
JACKY: Positive, there is a new CD in the works and it should be ready for worldwide release at the end of the year.
3) How does it make you feel to know that you are representing your country when you travel and play all over the world like that?
JACKY: It makes us feel good and proud at the same time.
4) What has been your most memorable POSITIVE experience you've had overseas with Strings ever since you guys started touring? Please name the country if possible and why it was a special experience?
JACKY: We have had many positive experiences while on tour whether it was in Japan, Chile, St Lucia, Martinique or Guadeloupe. In Chile for example, we were performing in front of a crowd of 5000 people when the police had to be called by the concert promoters because people invaded the stage which by the way almost collapsed. That's when the authorities asked us to end the concert for security reasons, just to tell you how crazy the Chileans went for STRINGS.
St Lucia was an unforgettable experience, it was also the very first participation of the group at the famous Jazz Festival and the people over there are anxiously waiting for us to come back. At the Martinique Jazz Festival the newspaper headlines wrote:"Even the rain could not extinguish the musical fire delivered by STRINGS. At the "Centre des Arts"in Guadeloupe, it was standing ovation all the way through the concert with people screaming HAITI, HAITI, HAITI. It was just amazing.
5) What about your most memorable/forgettable NEGATIVE experience you've had overseas ever since the band started touring? Please name the country and elaborate.
JACKY: The worse experience happened in New York where we were booked to perform in a hotel lounge in Long Island. The morning after the show, we were unable to leave the hotel due to the fact that the concert promoter took off without paying the hotel bills.We confronted the hotel management who called the police who told them that they had no right to hold us hostage. We almost missed our flight and our next performance.
6) Has Strings reached its' peak in terms of popularity? Do you think the band can go any higher on the international market?
JACKY: I don't think that STRINGS has reached its peak yet. Every day all over the world, people are discovering Strings' music. There are still a lot of places where we have not played. At the present time, our CD's are being distributed in major retailed stores in the US like TOWER RECORDS and BARNES and NOBLES which means that our music is being accepted and introduced to a potentially huge market. It is only the beginning.
7) How would you answer critics who say that Strings is crossing over to other markets NOT with Haitian music, but with flamenco flavored songs, a style more closely associated with other countries more specifically Spain?
JACKY: First of all, I would like for our critics to define what is STRINGS' identity? We called it ourselves "FLAMENCO TROPICAL" because of the mixture of Spanish Flamenco and the Haitian Troubadour which confirms the TROPICAL flavor of the music. What's important to know is that STRINGS is a Haitian band and that our music is played and heard all over the world.
Our fellow countrymen identify themselves to our music otherwise we would not have sold that many CD's and cassettes in our own market. It's the right of the critics to give their opinion, but it is also the right of the people to choose what they like.
8) Do statements like that make you want to add a little more of a Haitian "feel/spice" to Strings' music just so you can please them? If you do, are you not messing around with Strings' identity?
JACKY: Listen carefully to our two CD's and you will notice and feel how strong our identity remains throughout our music. That's probably the reason why we are being solicited more and more to play in ballrooms, because people discovered that besides listening to STRINGS' music, they could dance and have fun also.
9) You have made some changes to your "Live" presentation recently by adding drums to the mix. What prompted you to make that move?
JACKY: Good observation. As an innovative musical group, we will always try to test some new stuff. Some will work, some will not, but all that is done in the context of experimentation and creativity and is part of the band development process.
10) What do you think of the group "Take 5"? Have you heard their record and seen them play "Live"? Do you think they are Strings copycats?
JACKY: I have no comment other than to say that I am very pleased to see that somebody else is following our footsteps which can only mean that we must be doing something good. We wish them all the best.
11) We understand that you guys had a little trouble getting people to believe in the Strings' concept BEFORE the first CD came out. Which producers missed out on this fabulous project, and what do you have to say to them now?
JACKY: I can only present my compliments to the guys of Crossover RECORDS who had a vision that the other ones did not have. Anyway, all the producers can't have the same goals in life.
12) How did you guys end up with Crossover Records?
JACKY: Our percussionist and producer Joel Widmaier was the one who introduced us to Crossover Records.
13) Another question inquiring minds want to know. Why is Joel Widmaier no longer with the group?
JACKY: Joel's decision was very personal. This is a decision involving his private life and I have to respect it. We still have a very good relationship and from time to time we consult with him regarding the group's affairs and he also knows that he is welcome anytime.
14) Will he still be the studio producer for the next Strings CD? Will he contribute any songs on the upcoming record?
JACKY: With the success of the first two albums, Joel is one of our top choices to produce the next one. We have already made our selections but there will always be room for him if he has a song.
15) Where do you see Strings in five to ten years? Where would you like to be?
JACKY: No one but GOD can predict the future. All I know is that the world is big and after 4 years on the market, we only just started reaching some new places and if the reception is as good as in the places we have already been, then the sky will only be the limit. We also wish that our music can be there forever just like the music of MOZART that is playing in the backgrounds I'm answering your questions.
16) What do you guys have coming up in terms of touring? Give us some places/dates if you want to of where Strings will be performing in the near future?
JACKY: I will suggest that you call Crossover Management. They are the ones handling all the bookings worldwide for Strings, but I can venture to say that for the month of October 2000, we will be touring French GUYANA,Suriname,with 3 concerts in Brazil also.
17) Jacky, what made you decide to try your hand at this style of music in the first place?
JACKY: Let's put it this way. I felt that my career as a musician was not moving forward and a radical change was needed. You have to know that I learnt how to play the guitar by studying the method of one of the greatest Spanish composers. His name is TARREGA and that's how I fell in love with Spanish music, especially Flamenco.
One night, the idea of playing flamenco mixed with a Haitian troubadour style developed into a logical and incredible combination. It became obvious that a new style of music had emerged .It was like striking a gold mine.
1 Did you think that it would become popular with the Haitian public like it has? What about the overseas market?
JACKY: Since the very first day that the "FLAMENCO TROPICAL" musical concept came to my mind, I knew it was going to work. When you have a vision, it is difficult enough to transform that vision into reality; so if you don't believe in it, don't even try it.
19) What about your "Jammin' Jacky" days? Do you have good or bad memories of those days? Please elaborate.
JACKY: Jammin'Jacky was probably my first personal experience and I have some very good memories about those days.The people are still talking about it and are still asking me after eleven years to play " TI DOUCE" for them which was one of my hit songs.
21) What is Strings' formula for success?
JACKY: Success equals hard work, professionalism, patience, seriousness and honesty.
22) Any final words to your fans?
JACKY: Thanks to GOD. Thanks to our fans for the unconditional support and dedication. Our thanks also to the press in general for the wonderful reviews especially KOMPA! MAGAZINE. I would like also to extend our thanks to our sponsors, particularly to CAPITAL BANK in Haiti and also Kronembourg, and last but not least thanks to our families for coping with "LA VI MUSICIEN".
PEACE AND LOVE TO ALL OF YOU
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