Rajni Lallah and Grup A4-A5 gave a fantastic two-hour jazz concert from 8:00 pm on 29 October, 2011 in Curepipe, in the Hall of the Centre Culturelle d’Expression Francaise on the Main Road. The Hall was packed for the concert, which was a key event amongst a series organized by the Association for its fiftieth anniversary. In fact, it was the first time they had ever hosted a jazz concert, which they billed as part of a process of “democratizing” their association. The applause for each musician, during numbers, and the spontaneous calling out from the audience gave a wonderfully rich atmosphere to the Hall more accustomed to sedate classical chamber music.
Clifford Boncoeur’s guitar work has grown even more creative since the A4 concert last year, while Steve Desvaux on the bass and Dario Manick on drums have both developed their extraordinary skills since then, too. The group gelled into a compelling, almost haunting, perfection during a crescendo number called “Kuma siklonn” composed by Rajni Lallah, and during which the changing intensity and tempo, and the unexpected silences, made a beautiful contrast with their stupendous virtuoso compositions and playing. It left the audience literally breathless.
Joelle Husseiny’s voice came in during the numbers like an additional, now finely tuned, musical instrument. She has diversified into some very beautiful scats, that must have taken hours and hours of intense concentration and practice, and she has now begun to find a new depth of expression in the songs Lamer about the Diego Garcia occupation, and a new composition of Rajni Lallah’s, Ana, in memory of the slave rebel, Ana de Bengal. These were quite spine-chillingly beautiful. The jazz call-and-response between Rajni on the electric piano, Clifford on his guitar, and Steve on bass, were both musically sophisticated and emotionally integrated. Dario Manick’s percussion has now begun to flower in the atmosphere of musical sophistication and variety of the group; he has found his own.
The music, as always, with the memories of Mauritian sounds returning and again returning, has drawn in from the most diverse traditions of jazz, sega, classical, indian and hard rock. As the expression in Kreol goes, in a clumsy literal translation: “anyone not present has thrown away half their lifetime”.
At the end, the applause from the diverse audience of people from the CCEF Association, young people from the various housing estate cité in Curepipe, LALIT members, families of the band members, was rapturous. There were such persistent calls for an “encore” that even though A4 (which is now A-5, with the vocalist) never do “encores”, they had to. Otherwise there was no way anyone would go home. And they had not prepared one …