Yves Jean hones a unique sound by fusing styles of funk, blues and world beat.
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Yves Jean's pretty hard to miss in Pittsburgh's music scene -- you
can't walk into just any rock bar around here and see a 6-foot-5
Haitian-American who combines mainstream pop-rock vocals and hooks with
his rippling bass and African and Caribbean rhythms. Though you might
find Yves himself working the door at Shady Grove -- one of his four
jobs, he jokes -- and if you do, it's pronounced "Eve."
The workload is a means to two ends: First, to finance the professional sheen on his new record, for Love and Desperation, and, second, to keep him busy and upbeat in the face of some bleaker times.
got started in Pittsburgh's music scene in the late 1990s, winning the
1999 Graffiti Rock Challenge with the Yves Jean Band, "a nine-piece jam
band, basically," he says. "It was a world-beat, eclectic fusiony kind
of stuff with great musicians." When the lineup proved too cumbersome
for touring, Jean pared it back to a four-piece, and for 2004's Rise Above Your Surroundings,
the songs became more concise and indie-rock-oriented. After a
year-and-a-half of touring, Jean was primed for another go at the
studio when things started to fall apart: He lost his mother, Georgette
Jean, who had raised him alone in New York City, to cancer. With his
only real family gone, he soon realized, "I'm alone in this