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Etienne Charles, Trumpet
This interview featured 2006 National Trumpet Competition winner Etienne Charles. One listen to his debut recording Culture Shock shows the depth and breadth of his varied musical heritage. From the Calypso and Caribbean steel pan grooves of his native Trinidad, to sophisticated swing firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, Charles deftly incorporates a multitude of styles while maintaining continuity, freshness, and maturity in his sound. Charles comes from a rich legacy of musical tradition. His grandfather was seldom seen without his cuatro or guitar. His father Francis was a member of Phase II Pan Groove, one of the world’s top steel bands and one that Etienne would later join himself. Music surrounded Charles as a child, emanating from his father’s record collection, and the sounds of calypso, steel pan, and African shango and tassa drumming. These formative years inform Charles’s playing and are evident in his sound today. For his first album, Culture Shock, Charles assembled an outstanding and seasoned band of veteran musicians to help him bring his vision of jazz fused with Afro-Caribbean rhythms to fruition. Pianist extraordinaire Marcus Roberts is featured, with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra trombonist Vincent Gardner, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Ralph MacDonald, vocalist Pam Laws, saxophonist Dayve Stewart, and the hard swinging and solid rhythm section of Rodney Jordan and Leon Anderson on bass and drums respectively. This all-star cast brings together Charles’s diverse influences and creates a unified, fresh, and urgent musical presentation on par with the best jazz being made today. Etienne Charles is a talented, creative soul with a vision and the will to bring it to the world, as heard on his most recent recording, Folklore, a suite of jazz-oriented compositions that address the mythical heritage of the Caribbean region.