Grupo Vocal Desandann
Grupo Vocal Desandann is a ten-person ensemble celebrating a legacy of Haitian a cappella music in eastern Cuba. On Descendants, their complex vocal style is accompanied only by occasional light percussion, and their voices, five male, five female, are deployed in dense harmonies and intricate, interweaving call-response and contrapuntal structures. What sets Grupo Vocal Desandann apart, however, is not these tight arrangements, but the perfect tonal matching of the voices; the basses ground without rattling, the sopranos soar without a hint of shrillness, the center holds unobtrusively. The result is mildly puzzling but profoundly enjoyable; is this the heavenly choir or the 101 Strings?
Endemic exposure to American commercial music has made me wary of perfection. The vocals of Desandann are indeed perfection, but hardly banal; they throb with spirit, life, and cleverness. Angels one, Mantovani zero. - Jim Foley
Audio: "Wangolo" (traditional) ©1999 Bembe Records
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