Etienne Charles’ ‘Creole Soul’ hits No. 1 on JazzWeek charts

A musical medley of Caribbean and creole, “Creole Soul,” the fourth album by Etienne Charles, assistant professor of trumpet for the Michigan State University College of Music, made its debut July 23, and it just hit No. 1 on the JazzWeek charts. 

It was also featured in New York Times’ “Press Play” section, where it earned rave reviews.

“‘Creole Soul’ connects many musical elements: folk, jazz, calypso, reggae, Haitian Vodou music and many others,” said Charles, who is a member of MSU Professors of Jazz. “For me it’s special because it brings all of my worlds together. The record was inspired by the search for the sounds of my ancestors: creole from the French and Spanish and English Caribbean.”

The album also highlights inspirations from blues to bebop while drawing on an array of rhythms including Rocksteady, Reggae, Bel Air, Kongo and Calypso, he said.

Performing alongside Charles on “Creole Soul” are Jacques Schwartz-Bart (tenor saxophone); Brian Hogans (alto saxophone); Alex Wintz (guitar); Obed Calvaire (drums); D’Achee and Daniel Sadownick (percussion); and Thelonious Monk Competition winner and MSU College of Music alumnus Ben Williams (jazz bass).

Charles was born in Trinidad and grew up listening to his father’s extensive collection of music. Now, those sounds, which include steel pan and African Shango drumming, make a subtle appearance in his compositions, he said.

Charles will join his colleagues at 7:30 p.m. on August 28 when the College of Music presents the MSU Professors of Jazz in a kick off the academic year concert at Wharton Center for Performing Arts. More concert information here.

Editor's note: Recent faculty recordings, including "Hindemith Retrospective: Viola Sonatas," by Professor of Viola Yuri Gandelsman and Ralph Votapek, professor emeritus of piano, and "Coming Home," by Assistant Professor of Jazz Trombone Michael Dease have received rave reviews and accolades as well. Click here for more about College of Music faculty recordings.

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