Décès de Jacob Desvarieux, leader du groupe Kassav’ et père du zouk

 Décès de Jacob Desvarieux, leader du groupe Kassav’ et père du zouk

Jacob Desvarieux, mort vendredi à 65 ans des suites du Covid-19, était l’un des fondateurs du groupe Kassav’, monument aux Antilles qui a connu un énorme succès dans les années 80 en mélangeant des musiques locales pour créer un style, le zouk.

De santé fragile depuis une greffe rénale, le chanteur et guitariste guadeloupéen avait été hospitalisé le 12 juillet à Pointe-à-Pitre après avoir été contaminé par le coronavirus.

Les hommages se succèdent depuis l’annonce de sa mort. « Monstre sacré du zouk. Guitariste hors pair. Voix emblématique des Antilles. Jacob Desvarieux était tout cela à la fois », a tweeté le président français, Emmanuel Macron.

Monument

« Les Antilles, l’Afrique et la musique viennent de perdre l’un de ses plus grands Ambassadeurs. Jacob, grâce à ton art, tu as rapproché les Antilles à l’Afrique. Dakar où tu as vécu te pleure. Adieu l’ami », a abondé le chanteur sénégalais Youssou Ndour.

Monument aux Antilles et star en métropole, le groupe est également très connu en Afrique. « Nous qui venions de petites îles, on n’imaginait même pas que les Africains avaient accès à notre musique !, racontait en 2019 à Jeune Afrique Jacob Desvarieux. Je me souviens qu’un jour, au début des années 1980, un commerçant camerounais qui vivait en Guadeloupe nous a dit : « Il faut que vous veniez sur le continent, vous êtes des stars ! »

Le clip de « Syé Bwa » a d’ailleurs été tourné à Kinshasa. « L’Afrique s’est ouverte à nous avant même la France », ajoutait Jocelyne Béroard lors de ce même entretien. « Ils ne comprenaient pas le créole, mais ils répétaient plus ou moins phonétiquement, ou ils créaient leurs propres versions », souriait-elle. « “Zouk la sé sel médikaman nou ni” (« Le zouk est le seul médicament que nous avons », ndlr) est, par exemple, devenu “Zouk la, j’ai mangé un demi-kilo de riz”! »

Tubes festifs

Le groupe Kassav’ ? « Au départ, c’était un laboratoire : nous cherchions à trouver une bande-son qui fasse la synthèse de toutes les traditions et sons antérieurs, mais qui soit exportable partout », racontait le musicien au journal Libération en 2016.

À TRAVERS NOTRE MUSIQUE, NOUS INTERROGIONS NOS ORIGINES. QU’EST-CE QU’ON FAISAIT LÀ, NOUS QUI ÉTIONS NOIRS ET PARLIONS FRANÇAIS ? »

Un cocktail qui donnera naissance à des tubes festifs et dansants chantés en créole, comme « Zouk la sé sèl médikaman nou ni » (1984, sur un album que Desvarieux cosigne avec un autre fondateur de Kassav’ mais qui ne sort pas sous le nom du groupe) ou « Syé bwa » (1987).

« À travers notre musique, nous interrogions nos origines. Qu’est-ce qu’on faisait là, nous qui étions noirs et parlions français ?, expliquait à Libé Desvarieux, la voix douce et voilée et les cheveux blanchis par les années. Comme les Afro-Américains des États-Unis, nous cherchions des réponses pour reprendre le fil d’une histoire qui nous avait été confisquée. »

Kassav’ explose en même temps que la « world music », les musiques du monde : au milieu des années 80, le public a soif de musiques lointaines et métissées. « Notre musique se devait d’être “antillaise”, c’est-à-dire reconnue par les Antillais, contrairement à ce qu’il se passait alors avec la world music : il s’agissait d’une musique anglo-saxonne avec un chanteur du tiers-monde, chantant parfois dans sa langue », nuançait toutefois Jacob Desvarieux.

Encensé par Miles Davis

Kassav’ (en référence à la cassave, une galette de manioc) est fondé en 1979 par des artistes guadeloupéens, Pierre-Edouard Decimus (du groupe Les Vikings de la Guadeloupe) et Freddy Marshall. Ils recrutent d’autres musiciens, dont Desvarieux, né en 1955 à Paris et qui, comme guitariste, revendique des influences rock, de Chuck Berry à Jimi Hendrix.

La base du style du groupe est le gwo ka, musique guadeloupéenne marquée par les tambours. Il y ajoute d’autres ingrédients venus de toutes les Caraïbes – compas haïtien, biguine… – et un emballage moderne, avec de la basse, des cuivres et des claviers.

Le premier album de Kassav’, « Love and Ka dance », sort en 1979. 1980 marque la première apparition dans le groupe de celle qui en deviendra l’emblème : la chanteuse martiniquaise Jocelyne Béroard. Kassav’ atteint le pic de sa popularité à la fin des années 80. Il signe un contrat avec la multinationale du disque CBS, sort l’album « Vini Pou » en 1987 (disque de platine) et reçoit une Victoire de la musique en 1988. Encensé par le jazzman américain Miles Davis, le groupe enchaîne les concerts dans le monde entier. Et parallèlement aux nombreux albums de Kassav’, ses membres sortent des disques solo. Depuis, la mode du zouk est retombée, mais Kassav’ a continué d’attirer un public nombreux en concert.

Source : Jeune Afrique

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