Issa El Saieh

  • Birth: February 22, 1919
  • Birthplace: Petit Goave, Haiti
  • Genre: Mini Jazz
  • Year Active: 1942-?


 Issa el Saieh born in Petit Goave on February 22, 1919, is known as musician, paint artist, and band leader. Born of Palestinian parents, he was only 9 years old when his mother sent him to new-York for an American education. While he was part of his school band as a clarinet player, he was also involved in baseball, basketball, American football hockey, wrestling and boxi ng . In New York, he was exposed to the best Jazz musicians of the time such as: Charlie Parker, Lester Young, John Birks ? Dizzy ? Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne. Thereafter, he took music lessons from seasoned musicians such as: Walter ? Foots ?Thomas, Albert ? Budd ? Johnson, Eddie Barefield, and Andrew Brown.

In 1940, after his schooling days, he returned to his native land with big dreams. Then, in 1942, many years before Kompa birth, he founded Issa el Saieh band and was the band leader. The band played in Port-Au-Prince from the early 1940's until 1951 and was a breeding ground for future music super stars such as Joe Trouillot, Emmanuel Duroseau, Herby Widmaier , Charles Dessalines, Kenel Duroseau, Rene Dor, Joe Trouillot , Guy Durosier , Emmanuel Duroseau , Ernest Nono Lamy , Kenel Duroseau , Raoul Guillaume, Roland Guillaume, Ti Roro .The rhythm was part Creole, part Cuban, part American Jazz and hundred percent unforgettable.

With brilliance, he has demonstrated that the Haitian folklore can be mixed with the Cuban rhythm and the particular American Jazz Harmony without sacrificing its Creole essence. With great mastery, he has interpreted those popular songs like Haiti, Anana, and Choucoune. His historical works were recorded in Cuba in 1957, a few months before the Cuban revolution. And if one's is lucky enough to have one this CD, I guarantee that he would be amazed by the richness and the level of his pre-Kompa Haitian band
Besides offering us a great band, Isaa has claimed to have being part of the first basket- ball Association of Port-Au-prince with the Talamas, and Montreal.

Issa is also considered as one of the pioneers in the world of Haitian paintings. He was the first or the second person to have sold paintings in a commercial space. And for more than 40 years, he was at the epicenter of the Haitian artistic world. As a talent spotter, he has discovered many great naive artists such as Alexandre Gregoire, Seymour Bottex, Jacques Chery, Jacques Enguerrant Gourgues, Andre Pierre, Andre Normil, and many others.

Isaa died on February 2, 2005 in Port-Au-Prince. Even tough his late existence was hit by Alzheimer like Ronald Reagan, but he is survived by a multitude of deeds and great memories in the musical, artistic sportive and altruistic world.

- Paul Sanon -

Source: Haitian / American Sports and Education Network