The Beat vol. 22, no. 4 2003Brian Dring

You Go Girls

During the last two months I recieved an unexpected deluge of recent albums from women artists, so it follows that this issue’s theme should deservedly be ‘Divas of the Caribbean’.

First up is the latest from Izaline Calister, an Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter from Curaçao whose latest release Mariposa (Eazy C) is an ambitious but hard-to-classify exploration of the boundaries between her island’s homegrown tumba rhythms and sophisticated jazz idioms, from ballad to hard fusion. Whereas her previous Soño di un Muhé successfully tapped into a samba-jazz groove, this album deliberately avoids revisiting familiar ground, restlessly opting instead for a driving Latin jazz feel. A song like ‘M’a yeg’ atrobe’ boggles the mind with the number of influences crammed into one song: a tumba rhythm backdrop, salsa piano, punchy Caribbean horns, and wailing Hendrix guitar. This is followed by the title track, a longuerous jazz ballad highlighted by soaring vocals and a scintillating violin solo. ‘Man na Obra’ combines Coltrane-like jazz voicings with salsa piano, and the artist’s own clear-as-a-bell tonality.

Izaline is one of the most gifted women singer/ songwriters to emerge from the Caribbean, backed at every restless musical turn in the road by her equally talented band. When someone of her talent could easily be opting for a crossover into the jazz world, she brings honor to the Dutch Caribbean ABC islands with her uncompromising appraoch to music and culture: all lyrics are in Papiamento.