Etienne Charles: Creole Soul
Over its century-plus history, jazz has forged its shape-shifting identity by encompassing a rainbow of musical dialects in an improvisation-infused setting. While jazz’s potency launched into popular appeal based on the integration of the European classical music sensibility and the grassroots of African-American cultural heritage, it has not remained a static idiom. Indeed, jazz has become organically enlarged, expanded and revitalized by cultivating new influences into the tradition, from the Afro-Cuban movement of the ’40s to today’s artists embracing their ethnic heritage.
One of the most compelling and exciting young jazz artists ushering the genre into groundbreaking new territory is trumpeter/bandleader Etienne Charles, who, still in his 20s, has already recorded three impressive and well-received albums for his own Culture Shock Music imprint. His new album, Creole Soul, is a captivating journey of new jazz expression. It buoyantly taps into a myriad of styles rooted in his Afro-Caribbean background and plumbs the musical depths of the islands, from calypso to Haitian voodoo music. Also in the jazz amalgam mix are rock steady, reggae, belair, kongo and rock as well as the influence of Motown and R&B music Charles listened to on his parents’ record player when he was growing up.