Sam Castandet et son Orchestre Antillais – La Rue Zabyme

April 6, 2008

There are numerous types of Martiniquan music, but one form that proved quite popular in early recording, even becoming something of a craze, is known as biguine, an orchestrated popular music vaguely similar to calypso or a rhumba, and where the clarinet and trombone have a strong presence. Typically, the clarinet is played with, for lack of a better word, a weepy sound – which you might find similar to the late-1930s Boateng record I posted a while back…an example of direct, cross-Atlantic influence.

Most, if not all, early Martiniquan bands recorded in Paris, beginning from about 1930, when the great Alexandre Stellio began recording for Odeon. Sam Castandet appeared on the scene not soon after, and had a recording career that lasted at least until the 1950s. This track has the typical orchestration for a biguine tune, but is meant to be danced as a mazurka – it was recorded ca. 1940.

Sam Castandet et son Orchestra Antillais – La Rue Zabyme

There are a few nice CDs of early music from the “French Antilles.” Au Bal Antillais on Arhoolie, and Music of Martinique on Flyright are two examples. Another that looks like it may be harder to find is Biguine, Valse Et Mazurka Creoles 1929-1940, released on Fremeaux & Associes.

Technical Notes
Label: Columbia
Issue Number: DF 3358
Matrix Number: CL 8841-1P

3 Responses to “Sam Castandet et son Orchestre Antillais – La Rue Zabyme”

  1. yves francois said

    hello Jonathan
    love your site, and I do have a similar love for this sort of Biguine. I wanted to let you know that this has been reissued on CD “Sam Castendet et son Orchestre Antillais Integrale 1950” on Fremeaux FA5028 (track #10). The vocalists (Martinales et Alberto) is the husband and wife team that includes Al Lirvat, who made many 45’s and LP’s later as well (and also recoded with Barel Coppet in the later 50’s). I must say, as good as Fremeaux reissues are, your reproduction is better, a really first rate transfer, and I wonder if you heard any of the biguine trumpet player Abel Beauregard Pathe’s, from about the same time, for some reason they evade me, all the best and excellent choices in your music, Yves Francois

  2. JW said

    Thanks, Yves!

    I had no idea this was on a Fremeaux CD, though I guess it doesn’t surprise me. I don’t like to post anything that is available on CD and in print, though because of your nice comments about my transfer, I shall keep it up for a short while, then delete it. So, anyone reading this as of July 30: get it while you can!

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