Born in Copenhagen Denmark, percussionist Markus Schwartz grew up in an American household surrounded by jazz, and has devoted the last twenty years to learning the wealth and complexity of traditional Haitian drum music. Moving in and out of Haiti since the early 1990s, Markus followed the lead of Haitian percussionists on pilgrimages into the countryside to learn the intricate and powerful Vodou drums. Markus was a founding member of the ground-breaking Haitian Jazz quintet Mozayik and the Buyu Ambroise & Blues in Red Band, Markus has recorded and/or performed around the world with many of Haiti's finest musicians, including “Queen of Haitian Song” Emeline Michel and Hip-Hop superstar Wyclef Jean.
In late 2008, Markus recorded a "solo" project featuring an all-star cast of invited guests Tanbou nan Lakou Brooklyn/Haitian Drums in the Brooklyn Yard reached #3 on the JazzWeek World radio charts.
A Haitian native from the small town of Port -au-Prince, Monvelyno Alexis began playing the Guitar at the age of 18. Gospel music was his first musical experience. As a young boy, Monvelyno's instruments included the Flute, Clarinet, and the Trumpet. However, his passion for the Guitar was supreme. By his early twenties, Monvelyno had matured into an experienced Guitar player and he was fortunate to meet and begin playing with Thurgot Theodat, one of Haiti's most famous Jazz musicians who were working to fuse Jazz and Voodoo rhythms. This propelled Monvelyno into a deep ethnography of Voodoo music. Over the next three to four years, he visited traditional temples, as Lakou Souvenans, Lakou Badjo, Lakou Soukri, and spent time with highPriests and Priestesses of Voodoo, and learned many of their ritual spiritual songs.
Inspired by the rhythms and chants of the sacred Vodou music traditions of Haiti, guitarist/vocalist extraordinaire Monvelyno Alexis and renowned percussionist Markus Schwartz incorporate elements of "Mizik Rasin", Jazz and Rock into a uniquely original and modern improvisational context.
Vo-Duo's debut recording, entitled "Nou La" (We are here) is a testament to this dynamic duo's combined lifetime of dedication to their craft. Monvelyno & Markus are both established bandleaders and sought-after sidemen on the Haitian music scene in NYC and beyond. Together they manifest a unique and passionate musical vision for the past, present and future of Haitian music.