The pioneers of biguine jazz are back! The Vikings were Guadeloupe’s first real rock stars: they embodied a spirit of freedom and non-conformism during the 1960s, a time of rigid conventions, and were part of a generation of young musicians that broke with the culture of large dance bands. In the reduced ensemble of guitar, percussion, and bass, they fused funk, creole jazz, calypso, konpa, and merengue with gwoka and biguine from Guadeloupe. The result: a modern creole sound, a predecessor to zouk in the 1980s. Rare original records by the Vikings are now in demand among record collectors and their funky creole jazz has become better known in recent years thanks to compilations and reissues. Fifty years after their founding, the band has now reunited around the saxophonist Camille “Soprann” Hildevert.
The pianist and composer Tom McDermott grew up with ragtime and jazz in New Orleans during the 1960s. In the 1990s he toured the world with the Dukes of Dixieland. A lover of Brazilian music, the Beatles, and European classical music, he is well known for his eclecticism and the unusual variety of his repertoire. For Wassermusik, he is joined by the percussionist and ethnomusicologist Michael Skinkus on the Cuban batá drum. He studied with master drummers from Senegal, Haiti, Brazil, and Cuba, and explored the influence of the African diaspora in the late 19th century on New Orleans jazz and its roots in Caribbean percussion. They jointly present rarities like the Caribbean pieces by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829–1869), the first composer to combine African rhythms with European harmonies.