Jowee Omicil speaks many languages and plays just as many instruments, but prefers the saxophone. A son of Haitian emigrants, he grew up in Montreal and started playing the sax at the church where his father was a minister, before studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, then moving to New York to launch his musical career and, at times, confer with Ornette Coleman or accompany Roy Hargrove as part of the band RH Factor. He then lived in Haiti and Panama and settled in Paris a couple of years ago after signing with the Jazz Village label. Although ‘settled’ is perhaps not the best term to describe him.
This is the essence of jazz, modern jazz: a joyful, generous form of music whose long history never hinders its progress or development. That’s how Jowee Omicil sees things, and how he plays them too. It’s also how the audiences who have seen him on stage in 2017 experienced things – whether in France, Africa, Canada or the Caribbean, at small venues or large festivals. In 2017, Jowee played with Tony Allen and BCUC and he’ll never forget it. He played in private at the small New York apartment of his Cuban friend and drummer Francesco Mela, and still hasn’t got over it. He brought the public surprises, coolness and wholeness. A ‘refill’ of positive energy, a little like at church, where everything started for him, and where Love Matters! draws to an end. On this record, as on the stage, the effusive Jowee is an ‘entertainer’ crazy about melodies, groove and pop music, and no label applied to define him will ever stick.