Etienne Charles plays the Falcon

e charles @Artists like the trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etienne Charles (not that there are many artists like Etienne Charles) give hope to the future of jazz. Charles is both a true international fusionist and a true heir to and torchbearer of the cerebral and interpretive challenges of jazz. His fourth release as leader, 2013’s Creole on his own Culture Shock imprint, is brilliant in its conception and a tour de force in its execution. It is also irresistibly groovy.

The Trinidad native’s fusion of various Caribbean rhythms and the harmonic sophistication of jazz is seamless and natural. Charles is also quite a modest session leader, often seeming to privilege the gales of hot blowing by the astonishing saxophonists Jacques Schwartz-Bart (tenor) and Brian Hogans (alto) over his own exquisite, hyperarticulate horn-playing.

The Juilliard graduate, still in his 20s, teaches jazz at Michigan State University, and while Creole certainly can be read as a dissertation on the global pathways of musical evolution and the multiple streams that meet in jazz, there is nothing remotely academic about the experience of the listening to it. It’s a brisk session featuring condensed forms, short and lyrical solos, deep grooves and rich textures, many of which come from the secret-weapon piano and electric piano work of Kris Bowers.


How fortunate are we to live near the Falcon, a veritable nightly showcase of the living legends of jazz and its future? I’ll answer for you: very.

Etienne Charles, Friday, September 5, 7 p.m., optional donation, the Falcon, 1348 Route 9W, Marlboro;