WOPLAZ: When Bèlè Meets Jazz

Gregory Rabess

Gregory Rabess (Wochla) in another of his video releases as part of DOMFESTA Celebrations and in the lead up to the Jazz n Creole Festival 2017 draws you into his world of bele jazz fusion with WOPLAZ, the signature song and title of his bele jazz project.

Woplaz, written and composed by Gregory Rabess, brings together the melodic, rhythmic, percussive and vocal elements of bèlè (pitjé) and jazz music and topped up with a bit of blues. This video features a live performance by Gregory Rabess at Word Sound and Power, Anchorage Hotel in May 2012, a fringe event of Dominica’s Jazz n Creole Festival.

The backing musicians include members of the band Shades of Green and Kalinago drummer Paulinus Frederick on djembe.

Gregory Rabess is a poet, singer, songwriter and musician from the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean.

Bèlè is a dance which originated in West Africa. It was brought over to Dominica by Africans during the period of plantation slavery in the 1700s. The main types of bèlè in Dominica presently are bèlè pitjé and bèlè soté, the former being more suave and the latter more upbeat. The dance is accompanied by drumming and singing, typical of the call and response pattern in African music.

Jazz is a music genre developed by African Americans in French creole communities of the USA such as New Orleans in Louisiana. Its roots can be traced to Africa and Europe. Jazz is characterized by expanded chords and improvisation.

The Woplaz bèlè jazz project aims to push the boundaries of bèlè music in Dominica and take bèlè music to new levels. Woplaz is a variation of the Kweyol expression wop or wop la, meaning ‘hi or hello, hello there’. Woplaz breathes new life into an old creole greeting and bèlè music; absolutely refreshing.

When bèlè meets jazz, it’s a big whoop and shout, it’s WOPLAZ.

See video below.

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4 Comments

  1. Dominca Massive
    June 4, 2017

    Great music Mr.Rabess and crew, you have been at the top of music and culture with the likes of Raso, Raymond, Allwyn and many others…

  2. VALUE 4 MONEY
    June 3, 2017

    great job Gregory..keep the culture vibes rolling.. #Evoloutionof767culture

  3. Zandoli
    June 3, 2017

    Gregory must be a mad fella to sing that song in public.

  4. Roger Burnett
    June 3, 2017

    On the subject of traditional dance, can anyone further enlighten me on the Beguine.

    My curiosity was aroused by mention of the word in a different context:

    http://sculpturestudiodominica.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-sweetness-of-sin.html

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