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Alan Lomax in Haiti Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, November 24, 2009
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Product Description

2010 Grammy Finalist - Two Categories:
Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes


In 1936, in the middle of scouring rural America for folk music that might have vanished forever if not for his efforts, ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax traipsed off to Haiti for four months with his 19-year-old fiancée and a 55-pound recording unit. The results are only now available for anyone to hear.

Mr. Lomax was out to document the music of everyday Haitians, in whatever form, and to hunt for the influence of African music, as he had in the U.S. A 10-CD box set, Alan Lomax in Haiti, traces how Mr. Lomax moved from the most accessible sounds, such as the dance bands of Port-au-Prince, who had incorporated New Orleans jazz from records imported by occupying U.S. Marines. Following leads around the country, he acquired celebratory carnival songs, work songs, and eventually the music of officially forbidden Vodou (what is commonly known as voodoo) ceremonies.

As the musicians played for Mr. Lomax (pictured at right), his recording device cut sound grooves onto aluminum discs. He produced some 50 hours of sound. But the music was never publicly released. Mr. Lomax rushed on to other places and projects, and when he did revisit the Haiti recordings in the 1970s, the sound quality disappointed him.

About 10 years ago, daughter Anna Lomax Wood helped launch an effort to clean up the recordings. New software minimized surface noise and enhanced the sound. A nonprofit founded by Mr. Lomax co-produced the 10-CD set, which is also available for download and was released this week. It includes film footage shot by wife Elizabeth, whom he wed in Haiti, and a transcription of Mr. Lomax's field journal. --Wall Street Journal

The estate of Alan Lomax, Haitan scholar, and the Library of Congress have joined forces to produce a chronicle of Lomax's 1936 Haitan recording expedition in collaboration with The Association for Cultural Equity. Along with 10 CDs of recordings of Haitian musicians, the set also includes two books. One, the field journal of Lomax and a hard-bound set of liner notes and essays detailing and translating all the songs in the set. This scholarly collection of the American folklorist and ethnomusicologist's work in Haiti will be a special gift for hard-core folk music fans. --Pop Matters

Lomax sonically documented much of American culture in the 20th century, and his work is well-known to students of history. But in 1936-37 he took off for Haiti, and more than 70 years later, what he discovered is finally available to us. The recordings have been miraculously cleaned up, and the results featuring Mardi Gras and Carnival music, choruses of singing children and Vodou ceremonies is haunting, celebratory and just plain strange to 21st-century ears.

Ten discs might seem like a lot of sound to take in, and to be sure, you should take your time to absorb it all. What a remarkable documentation of a long-lost journey. It's the ideal gift for the armchair ethnomusicologist who thought he knew it all. --Denver Post

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 24, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Discs: 10
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • ASIN: B002FOQY7C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,187 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Christopher D. Pino on December 15, 2009
Format: MP3 Music
This set, particularly in the boxed set beign released today with Alan's trip diary and a musicological tour of Haiti was recorded by Alan Lomax with his wife on their honeymoon to Haiti in the Mid-30s. Like most honeymooners of their time (note dry humor), they carried an aluminum disk recording machine and many blank aluminum disks. Brilliantly restored by Magic Studio in NYC, produced by Anna Lomax, fruit of the honeymoon, and Don Fleming these disks can take you into a sound and time that is both eternal and out of both 17th Century Africa and France, little changed by the intervening centuries. The intense polyrhythm drum/song bands are particularly briliant as is the profound ability of song and dance to sustain the morale of peoples subjected to the worst imaginable hardships. I am not affiliated with the estate but did work for Alan for a decade. I believe these will win Grammies as did the Jelly Roll Morton box.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 13, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Various Artists
"Alan Lomax In Haiti"
(Birdman Records, 2009)
This 10-CD box set is a stunning historical resource, drawing on extensive recording sessions conducted in the 1930s by fabled ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax on behalf of the United States Library of Congress. Lomax recorded hundreds of hours of music, ranging from antique European ballads and dance music to early meringue recordings, Afro-Haitian percussion and extended recordings of authentic voodoo ceremonies. Some of the styles represented here have disappeared entirely -- not just from the popular Haitian repertoire, but from the island itself; many recordings feature artists who were well known regionally but may come as revelations to many listeners. It is a a remarkable cultural resource, documenting a richly cross-pollinated New World island culture, a snapshot of a time and society that were almost entirely lost, and would have been had it not been for Lomax's tenacious urge to document and present the folklore he found across the globe. Recommended! (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Guide To World Music)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Major on January 19, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I bought this amazing Alan Lomax in Haiti Box set last week direct from the distributor ( Allegro ) when I heard they were donating a portion of the sales toward the Haiti relief fund. Info below.

This is one of the most amazing box sets I have ever seen or owned and the historical importance of Haitian culture this contains is invaluable.
Even if they weren't donating a portion of the proceeds, to say that someone shouldn't buy this because of the Haiti disaster is really short-sighted and narrow-minded. For one thing most people don't stop using products from a country because there are disasters or other tragedies that befall that particular county or portions of it's population. The other side of the equation is that this amazing Haiti box set is raising the awareness of Haitian culture and illustrates how important it is that we work to restore the country and invest in a sustainable, long-term infrastructure that benefits the citizens of Haiti.

Allegro Media Group and NAIL Distribution in partnership with Harte
Recordings and the Alan Lomax Estate have banded together to do our
part in assisting the disaster relief in Haiti. We are pledging $15 from each purchase of the Alan Lomax in Haiti Box set to the Red Cross International Response Fund to aid in the disaster relief.
Link: [...]
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By Kate V. Somerville on April 4, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Though the packaging was somewhat damaged (and it appeared as a packing issue, not a mailing issue), and though there was no "filmstrip" as stated in contents, I am still giving this 5 stars since the music is all I was expecting, and it exceeds expectations. I love this.

I am now reading Travesty in Haiti by Timothy Schwartz, and am learning why I have so much respect for the Haitians. A Petri dish for the poverty industries, Haiti is a feeding trough for 'aid' and 'care' bureaucrats.

The Haitians' music stands.
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Format: Audio CD
i have over 200 box sets in my library and until i received this one, i loved them all equally. put this way: in all my years of collecting, i have never come across a project executed with so much love, creativity, and passion. it is a masterpiece from the music curation to the design of the liner notes which are award winning. great gift for any intelligent music fan.
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