StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: The Creole Soul of Etienne Charles


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This week, let's get acquainted via video with trumpeter Etienne Charles, who will make his St. Louis debut as a bandleader with a performance next Saturday, March 11 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Born in Trinidad, the 33-year-old Juilliard graduate has made a name for himself by blending jazz with Caribbean popular music styles including calypso, reggae, and rock-steady into what he calls “Creole Soul.”

Charles discusses the concept a bit in the first video up above, an electronic press kit for his 2013 album of the same name.

After the jump, you can see and hear how Charles adapts that popular material to his own purposes in live versions of “You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)," originally recorded in the early 1990s by reggae singer Dawn Penn, and covered in the mid-2000s by pop diva Rihanna; Bob Marley's “Turn Your Lights Down Low"; and “Sugar Bum Bum," once a major hit for calypso legend Lord Kitchener. All three clips are from a 2011 show at Dizzy's Club in NYC's Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Below that, you can see an excerpt from a performance Charles gave in 2014 at an arts festival back home in Trinidad.

Finally, you can see his interviewed and hear more of his band in action in a 2014 episode of Voice of America's program Beyond Category.

For more about Etienne Charles, check out this review of a recent performance of his in Trinidad, and listen to his interview from last August on WNYC, in which he talks about his most recent album San Jose Suite, “an ambitious 10-part work inspired by San Jose, California; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Etienne’s hometown of St. Joseph on the island of Trinidad — which was also called San Jose during the years of Spanish colonization."

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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