Teacher Jekyll: Ondas

October 16, 2018

Making Waves

Listening Post 172. It’s easy to exaggerate a kindred connection between two people from the same city, even if they were born 150 years apart. But consider: Jules Verne, who grew up in Nantes, certainly knew that nature can send a wave thousands of miles across the sea before it breaks on a shoreline. And Verne’s modern-day townsman, producer-musician-DJ Olivier Corre, knows that human imagination can create waves that bounce back and forth between far-flung islands and continents. Corre is the founder of Teacher Jekyll, a studio experiment that blossomed into a band—or, given the number of artists, a small village reflecting half a dozen Atlantic-rim cultures. On Ondas (Waves), the group’s third album, urban currents flow into Latin sounds, from Brazilian samba and bossa nova to Cape Verdean funaná and morna. The sun is always shining on this album, throwing equal light on fun and despair, reality and illusion, wanderlust and homesickness. Though Corre composed most of the music, the 11-track collection includes one well-adapted cover: On Y’a du soleil à vendre (Sun for Sale), Cuban singer Anais Ramos gives a lush update to France Gall’s 1960s pop ballad (video 1). Ramos joins French lyricist Greg Dandelot and flautist-saxophonist Charlotte Méas on Sagrado Camino (The Sacred Path), linking soul, music, creativity and ancestry (video 2). Brazilian singer-songwriter Ed’Son injects a festive-bleak tension into his rap/jazz lyric for Carnaval (video 3). Solèy té flanm (The Sun Was Blazing, video 4), by the Martincan singer Sam Alpha, keeps the temperature in the tropical range, as does Xinti bo Calor (Feel the Heat), performed in Cape Verdean Creole by lyricists Monica Pereira and Jowest. Teacher Jekyll is based in Nantes, of course, where once a writer’s ideas sailed away and today a musician’s friends converge, perhaps all connected by a timeless wavelength. (K Bress/InOuïe Distribution)


Y’a du soleil à vendre/Sun for Sale
(from the French)

Children play games/Innocent or cruel
The sun is like fire/It turns their heads

A Métis girl/Swinging her skirt
Glides through the throng/And trills like a parakeet

“I have sun for sale/It’s warm and it’s good
And if I was a merchant/I could make millions”

She dances her youth/Singing her whimsy
The summer heat makes her dream/And burns her like a fruit

Almost woman, still a child/Angel or gentle demon
She moves forward swaying/What does her song mean?

“I have sun for sale/It’s warm and it’s good
And if I was a merchant/I could make millions”


Sagrado Camino/The Sacred Path
(from the Spanish)
Sacred path, teaching the divine art/
My light and my will I surrender at the eternal altar
Sacred path, flame and trial of the warrior/With strength and meaning we sustain the ancestral culture

An instinctive scream from deep inside/The animal force awakens the reborn warrior
Cultivate the dream, the soul – life – essence/Art and magic connect with harmony

Ancestral forces lead the great cosmic dance/Nourish our heart and psyche
Free the creative source of the planetary being that arrives/And it comes into resonance

Sacred path, teaching the divine art/My light and my will I surrender to the eternal altar
Sacred path, flame and trial of the warrior/With strength and meaning we sustain the ancestral culture

Inspire, awaken the instinct/Sing, laugh and share
Nourish the being with seeds/From there the light will come

Flower and song/Link wisdom and beauty
I surrender to your greatness/The soul is reborn and dances
The world turns beyond


(from the Portuguese)
In my group/It’s a dead end
Smoke and drink/This is my Carnival
Tomorrow’s illusion/It’s always best to dream
Today the world is in trouble/Carnival

On this long Carnival avenue/There’s only one winner
Some endure by singing, some by dancing/Others suffering in pain
The costume is made/The harmony is wrong
For a moment of nothing/And in the end?

Carnival/The avenue dancing Carnival
Sweat running and the crowd screaming/Carnival

Where is the joy?/Where are the night people?
Where are the people who dream?/Where are the dance groups?
Where is the spirit of youth?/That’s not afraid of anything
That’s never stopped/Carnival

How does this samba go?/How does my sound turn out?
How does this plot change?/How does the tone evolve?

The torn costume/The distorted harmony
Nothing more exists/In the end


Solèy té flanm/The Sun Was Blazing*
(from the Antillean Creole)
Don’t answer “No”/We have a big skiff
Let’s go to Martinique/We will sing out loud
We have percussion/We’ll make our voices heard

Shake your behind/Don’t hide your knees
Calenda/Is looking for us everywhere
Our past/Calls out, “Good wind!
Gorée behind us/Blue sea in front

Funana woman/The sun was blazing
But we rowed/Together, together
From Cape Verde to Martinique/Funaná found calenda

*The song refers to two dances, Cape Verdean funaná and West Indian calenda, and the lyric “funaná found calenda” represents a journey from Cape Verde to Martinique. “Gorée” is an island off Senegal that was once a notorious slave depot

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