One of the most compelling and exciting young jazz artists ushering the genre of Afro-Cuban jazz into groundbreaking new territory is trumpeter/bandleader Etienne Charles, still in his 20s, who has already recorded three impressive and well-received albums. Mr. Charles will appear as a featured artist on both the main and gazebo stages at the 38th annual Saratoga Freihofer’s Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Sunday, June 28, 2015.
Born on the Island of Trinidad in 1983, Etienne Charles defies easy musical categorization. He has been hailed by The New York Times as “an auteur” and by Jazz Times as a “daring improviser who delivers with heart-wrenching lyricism.” According to Downbeat Magazine, “Charles delivers his ebullient improvisations with the elegance of a world-class ballet dancer.” Mr. Charles has received critical acclaim for his exciting performances, thrilling compositions and knack for connecting with audiences worldwide. In June 2012, he was written into the U.S. Congressional Record for his musical contributions to Trinidad & Tobago and the World.
Perhaps more than any other musician of his generation of Eastern Caribbean origin, Mr. Charles brings a careful study of myriad rhythms from the French-, Spanish-, English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean to the table. Crucially, as a soloist, he fully understands the New Orleans trumpet tradition (which is readily discernible in his trademark instrumental swagger) and what famed Crescent City Pianist, Jelly Roll Morton so succinctly captured in the now immortal phrase, “The Spanish Tinge.”
His latest recording, Creole Soul (Culture Shock Music 2013) has received worldwide critical acclaim for its fusion of root grooves from the Afro-Caribbean (3 weeks at #1 Jazzweek Chart, iTunes #5, #3 Jazzweek top 100 of 2013, #25 Billboard Jazz Chart). His previous release, Kaiso (Culture Shock Music 2011), features his arrangements and interpretations of the music of calypso legends Lord Kitchener, Mighty Sparrow and the Roaring Lion. As a sideman he has performed and or recorded with Monty Alexander, Roberta Flack, Frank Foster, Ralph MacDonald, Johnny Mandel, Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Maria Schneider, Count Basie Orchestra, Eric Reed, Lord Blakie, David Rudder and many others.