& Spektral Quartet
The composer, vocalist, and flutist Nathalie Joachim had always looked toward the future in her graceful, sophisticated music. After honing her craft at Juilliard and The New School, she made her reputation in contemporary classical with the Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird—and in pop with Allison Loggins-Hull in the flute duo Flutronix, which draws brilliant, delightful lines from Steve Reich to Radiohead to Erykah Badu. But for the signal achievement of her career so far, Joachim looked to the past, when she remembered her grandmother singing Haitian folk songs in a Brooklyn garden.
From that memory she drew forth Fanm d’Ayiti, her debut as a composer and bandleader and her first album for New Amsterdam. Joachim crafted a richly musical social history populated by the women who helped shape Haiti, both in the historical past and in her personal one. “Joachim bridged vast expanses of time and place, bringing together the sounds of Haitian folk music, Western classical music, electronic, and hints of pop, and she did so in service to one of the deepest of traditions—the tradition of innovation,” David Hadju wrote in The Nation. He was discussing a single movement, under four minutes long.
Blending recordings of Joachim’s grandmother, Haitian choirs, and interviews with flute, voice, electronics, and strings, the new compositions and re-envisioned folk songs are played with exquisite finesse by The Spektral Quartet, the Chicago ensemble that helped earn the album a Grammy nomination in 2017. Fanm d’Ayiti is a spellbinding meditation on geography and equality, family and history, which reaches across cultural boundaries to create a new hybrid of classical and folk that is uniquely and authentically Joachim’s own.