Etienne Charles | Univ. of Chicago Logan Center for the Arts | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Etienne Charles Recommended All Ages Soundboard Image

When: Thu., June 27, 7:30 p.m. 2013

Trinidadian trumpeter and bandleader Etienne Charles, who studied in Florida and lives in New York, puts a lot of thought into his albums, and the forthcoming Creole Soul (due July 23 from Culture Shock) is no exception. On his previous album, Kaiso, Charles transformed Trinidad’s best-loved export, calypso, with sturdy small-group jazz arrangements, fusing two traditions in which he’s completely fluent. His “creole soul” has a broader reach, sweeping up various strains of 20th-century Caribbean folk and pop (not just from Trinidad but also from Martinique, Haiti, and Jamaica) and feeding them into the ever-widening maw of modern jazz, in the process creating a multivalent hybrid that underlines the soulfulness of all its parts. The album opens with guest vocals by inventive Haitian roots singer Erol Josué (in the Haitian creole Kweyol) and includes deft interpretations of Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low” and Willie Cobbs’s Bo Diddley-inspired blues “You Don’t Love Me (No No No),” which was later transformed into a rocksteady classic by Jamaican singer Dawn Penn. The band also does a gorgeous version of the Mighty Sparrow calypso ballad “Memories” and accentuates the calypso feel of the melody in Thelonious Monk’s “Green Chimneys.” Charles fronts the same strong band from Kaiso, including French saxophonist Jacques Schwartz-Bart, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Obed Calvaire, but this time out the arrangements are much slicker, veering dangerously close to glossy fusion—particularly on the three tracks that feature the antiseptic contributions of guitarist Alex Wintz. Tonight that shouldn’t be as big a problem, though: Charles plays a fund-raiser for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival with Schwartz-Bart, pianist Christian Sands, bassist Rodney Whitaker, drummer Dana Hall, and percussionist Zach Himmelhoch. —Peter Margasak

Price: $50, $100 VIP, $10 students

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