Grand Baton is the latest project of French, native Caribbean, guitarist composer and singer Jean-Christophe Maillard (aka Mbutu), well known for his work in Gwoka music (traditional drum music from Guadeloupe); it is a powerful fusion of this heritage with rock music.
For the first time, electric overdriven guitars are combined with the mighty goat skin „slave drum” known as „Ka” for a steady ethno-rooted-pop rock with unusual rythms and melodic lines… the „Rude Ka” music is born.
Between Two Americas
It all began on an island awash in Carribean vibration, waves of Carneval interspersed with the drum beat of skin on skin. The teenager looking across the ocean lets his headphones flood with the pulse of rock and roll from a nearby continent. Here, he begins collecting: testimony from the horizon, breath from the four corners of the world, and echos from distant shores all gather in his mind’s ear.
Naturally, the work of Jean-Christophe Maillard first reflected his Carribean roots, from collaborations with members of the great Kassav, and especially Patrick Saint-Eloi, to the audacious ethnic drum pop album „Mi” he composed for Tanya Saint-Val; from albums with Martiniquan pianist Mario Canonge, or Hatian singer Beethova Obas, to his first solo album, „Ka Suite,” featuring the culturally innovative duo of guitar and traditional Ka drums.
Jean-Christophe Maillard’s music then progressed seamlessly to involvement in a number of prestigious African projects, including work with the Beninoise Angelique Kidjo, the reknowned Senegalese group Toure Kunda, the Congolese star Koffi Olomide, and the mythic voice of Dakar’s «Super Diamono» Oma Pene, which earned Jean-Christophe the nickname Mbutu (inspired by the creole word „boutou” meaning drumstick).
Because of Jean-Christophe Maillard’s precocious creative development (he was only 22 when he was offered the position of Musical Director for Michel Fugain’s tour), icons of the „chanson francaise” such as Richard Cotainer, Sarclo, and Michel Jonasz engaged his talents.
Also deeply involved in the French jazz scene, Jean-Christophe Maillard has been the collaborator, composer, guitarist, and pianist on a series of albums with accordionist Daniel Mille. Jean-Christophe impressively masters a custom-made saz-bass as part of Louis Winsberg’s flamenco project Jaleo and serves as the disarming pop-bikutsi guitarist with bassist Etienne Mbappe’s group.
From his home in Paris, nourished by urban rhythms and other multi-cultural concoctions (such as rapper Passi’s Bisso Na Bisso project), JCM countinues to explore new media for expression, and new mysterious recipes: watch for his new creole album combining alternative rock with Ka drums, a new sound he called „Rude Ka music”: Le Grand Baton.