“A lively and engaging release of vintage French Caribbean music” by Blues & Rhythm

Louis Lucien ‘Loulou’ Boislaville (1919-2001), artistic director of this group between 1966 and 1981, was the half-brother of the clarinettist Eugène Delouche, one of Martinique’s greatest musicians, and grew up with music all around him. He joined a small group of his friends as a singer and composer in the years immediately following World War II, with the aim of helping to restore many of the eastern Caribbean island’s almost-forgotten musical traditions. This eventually became the ‘Groupe Folklorique Martiniquais’. They became highly regarded throughout the Caribbean in the ‘50s, and recorded for Cook and Folkways, among other labels, but did not appear in mainland France itself until 1963; such was their status that they appeared at the 1972 Olympics and toured Europe, though by this time they had a full-time choreographer for the dancers, Ronnie Aul from Yazoo City, Mississippi, who took over the group in 1981.
The bulk of the recording on this CD were made in Paris in 1973, and feature Al Lirvat on trombone alongside others. These recordings – made originally for Célini Records of Guadeloupe – feature biguines, some traditional and others borrowed from pioneers such as Stellio and Sam Castandet – for some of these the clarinet is out front, and not too dissimilar from New Orleans jazz, though others have far more of what we now regard as a Caribbean sound. There are also old-fashioned sounding mazurkas and waltzes, and the closing medley combines the slow standard ‘Adieu Foulards’ with a frantically up tempo medley of carnival music (the group played for a week at Trinidad Carnival as early as 1948). There is even a calenda (known from New Orleans and which might have some bearing on the Cajun track ‘Allons Danser Colinda’), with its massed vocals accompanied by percussion and a raw sounding accordion, and a comedy song with amusing male-female interplay on ‘Ba Moi An Ti Bo’(‘Give Me A Little Kiss’). Two titles were recorded  in Pointe-A-Pitre in Guadeloupe in 1967 with a different front line, but there is no great difference in sound.
To sum up, a lively and engaging release of vintage French Caribbean music. If you are at all interested, do investigate forthwith.