Jacques Schwarz-Bart, also known as “Brother Jacques,” was born in the Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe but raised mostly in Switzerland by his literate, jet-setting parents. Those two locations figure prominently in his third CD, which leans heavily on the seven traditional gwoka rhythms of Guadeloupe—lots of percussion!—while exploring the jazz sounds with which he grew up on the Continent. Schwarz-Bart, now a New Yorker, is 44 but has been playing the sax for only 20 years. He started late, but convincingly shatters that old saw about the need to start on an instrument during the pre-teens in order to become a professional.
Schwarz-Bart’s affinity for bop and dissonant sax lines was undoubtedly polished during his seven years with Roy Hargrove’s Latin jazz band Crisol. But Soné Ka-La is driven by various gwoka rhythms and percussion that intersperse with vocalese, vocal tracks and even some spoken-word poetry by Schwarz-Bart on “Lewoz.” Schwarz-Bart’s jazz influences reign supreme, but he comes closest to perfection with “Pa Pale,” a mix of rap and wah-wah sax built around a gwoka war rhythm. Simply infectious.