Great Haitian musician who created cadence rampa, as well as helping Nemours Jean-Baptiste create the konpa dirèk or compas direct style of music. Sicot is recognized for his immense musical talent, both as a performer (alto and tenor saxophone, trumpet, bass, flute and percussion) and for having been an orchestra director and composer.

Weber Sicot was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1935. Little is known of the early years of his life. Sicot entered the musical world by studying at the Centrale des Arts et Métiers under the tutelage of Augustin Bruno. He also had the privilege of working with renowned musicians such as famed jazz pianist Francois Guignard. In the 1950s, Sicot made his professional debut with Claudin Toussaint’s group Jazz Capois.

Sicot constantly changed orchestras over the course of his long musical career and was both a member and director of orchestras. After leaving the Saieh Orchestra, he briefly joined Conjunto Internacional, led by Nemours Jean-Baptiste. Historians and critics disagree about how long Sicot was part of Jean-Baptiste’s band. But Sicot’s departure from Conjunto Internacional created a legend about the intense rivalry between the two musicians.

As part of Conjunto International, Sicot actively contributed to the creation of konpa dirèk, a musical genre that had its roots in Dominican merengue and the big band orchestras, mixing in mambo compas and other popular Caribbean rhythms. Konpa dirèk revolutionized popular Haitian music in the 1950s.

After leaving Conjunto International, Sicot joined the Citadelle Orchestra, then the Casino International Band and the Orchestra Latino. In 1961, he developed his own musical genre called cadence rampa. Similar to konpa dirèk in many ways, such as the base rhythm, cadence rampa and Sicot’s arrangements showed a musical sophistication and complexity that was lacking in konpa dirèk. Many critics also argued that cadence rampa retained a more Cuban foundation than konpa dirèk.

Sicot and his bands toured Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean, expanding the reach of cadence rampa, which became very popular in Martinique, Dominica, French Guiana, St. Lucia, and other parts of the Caribbean. The musical tours of Sicot’s groups sometimes lasted as long as two years.

For more than a decade, Sicot and Jean-Baptiste were fierce rivals, composing songs to insult and provoke each other. It is believed that the rivalry died down in 1965 after the debut of the song Polemic Fini by Sicot. Others say there was no real enmity between the two titans of Haitian music, and on the contrary they were friends who helped each other and sometimes collaborated. The legends about the relationship between the two musicians, along with the music they created, helped popularize both konpas dirèk and cadence rampa.

In 1967, Sicot’s band was invited to participate in Carnival, which led to the creation of several small jazz groups. In 1968, Sicot left for musical tours of the United States and Europe. He returned to Haitiin 1971 with his first solo recording, titled Just For You. When he returned to Haiti, however, he found that the public was in love with konpa dirèk, while cadence rampa was more popular abroad. From 1972 to 1978, Sicot traveled constantly outside Haiti on tours of both the United States and other Caribbean countries.

By the early 1980s, Sicot began to distance himself little by little from the musical world, making way for a new generation of musicians and the development of jazz groups. Webert Sicot died in February, 1985, in Port-au-Prince.

Author: Mintzi Martínez
Published: May 01, 2012.

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