“Mas Ka Klè,” a Guadeloupean carnival band will be making its first appearance at the Labor Day celebrations.
Photo by William Farrington

One of Guadeloupe’s large carnival bands, “Mas Ka Kle,” is making its first Labor Day appearance. Joining them will be a sensational new group “Zouk and the Gang.” “Mas Ka Kle” draws on Guadeloupean tradition and its African roots. “Zouk and the Gang” is a collaboration of established musicians who revisit the golden age of Zouk. Prior to Labor Day festivities, the groups will be performing in nightclubs in Harlem and downtown Manhattan.

Zouk and the Gang has built a following around its weekly gigs at the Jarry, Baie Mahaut club Dreams Cafe. The gritty industrial neighborhood by day, is a fitting backdrop for the band and its creative vision, to provide a contemporary, transformative medium to release the energy of zouk.

At a July performance the tension built during a fast moving set. The vocals of David Berald Catelot, backed by the arrangements by drummer Jean Marie Theophile, wrapped around the sultry zouk rhythms. Its configuration including Willfried Fluxis on keys, and Silvio Pineau on bass, give the band a flexibility to take the music in any direction at a moments notice. In their repertoire are classics such as Patrick St. Eloi’s zouk love “Darling” and Les Vikings de Guadeloupe’s “Sweet Florence” which plunged deep into an extended blues/psychedelia tinged guitar interplay between Patrice Lanneau and Jean Marc Ajavon.

Zouk and the Gang perform Wednesday, Aug. 27 at SOB’s in Manhattan, Thursday, Aug. 28 at the Brooklyn Museum, Caribbean Woodstock, and Friday, Aug. 29, 10:00 p.m. to midnight at Silvana, 300 W 116th St., Harlem.

Mas Ka Kle will honor their African roots on Eastern Parkway playing Mas Kongo also known as Neg Gwo Siwo in Guadeloupe. “Mas Ka Kle,” established in 1999, has been committed from its inception to committed to preserving Guadeloupean heritage.

The boom of the ka, the rat a tat tat of the bwake, and the snap of whips announce the arrival, and a mass of bodies covered in molasses and soot dressed in burlap or simply loincloths, the Mas Congo unleashes fear and chaos along their path.

Jean Michel Samba tells Caribbean Life 80 of its 800 members will be making the trip.

Their drummers will propel Pagwah Mas’ j’ouvert morning presentation “De Weddin” then the whole ensemble will march in the Labor Day parade.

A political delegation from the capital Les Abymes, including Deputy mayor Max Celigny, Commissioner Nadiege Theophile, Cabinet Members Corinne Feriaux and George Boucard will also be marching in the parade.

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