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Chris Daly grills bratwursts like Kenny Dennis.
By this point, unless you’ve living in Alaska (shout out to the in-laws), summer officially has struck pretty much the entirety of the U.S. Temperatures are soaring, and while it’s nice to watch all the pretty people sporting more adventurously revealing ensembles, you’ve got to admit, when it gets this hot and sticky, it’s hard to get one’s groove on for fear of the very real possibility of sweating to death. What are you, as the host of what you’ve told far too many of your friends is going to be the best damn BBQ of the year, supposed to do to get your guests’ asses wiggling after everyone has had their fill of Aunt Edna’s famous potato salad? Press play on Strut Records’ Disques Debs International, and let those French Caribbean grooves turn your backyard into an island paradise. Dances, quite possibly ending in “…ba,” likely are to follow.
Compiled by Hugo Mendez, co-founder of the globe-trotting Sofrito record label, and Emile Omar, DJ at Paris’ Radio Nova, Disques Debs collects works from the Guadeloupe label’s first decade of existence starting in the late ’50s. The styles range from early biguine and bolero to zouk and reggae, and the artists include big band orchestras, local fixtures, touring bands and younger cats that would experience greater success in the years to come. Even the bigger, brassier tracks here retain a nightclub intimacy, likely due to the fact that early releases were recorded in the back of label founder Henri Debs’ shop in Pointe-a-Pitre.
Debs’ role in exposing the creole music of Guadeloupe and Martinique to a worldwide audience cannot be understated. From the then young saxophonist Edouard Benoit, leader of Les Maxels and regular arranger for Debs bands, to big bands like Orchestre Esperanza and Orchestre Caribbean Jazz, poet and radio personality Casimir “Caso” Létang to folkloric gwo ka artist Sydney Leremon, Debs had an ear for sultry, local tunes that ooze tropical flavor. If that’s not enough to get your party bumping, you might be hanging out with the wrong class of people.