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Etienne Charles: Trumpet's First Chantwell

DanMichael Reyes By

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"I definitely think call and response is one of my [most] important parts of my writing. I looked at Thelonious Monk, and he's all about call-and-response. I listened to Horace Silver and Duke Ellington-Freddie Hubbard's writing is very call-and-response based between the rhythm section and the horns. Nat Adderley's writing—you can go down the list...David Sanchez. Their writing is definitely heavily based on that part of the tradition. It goes back to gospel, the preacher and the congregation. The chantwell and the tribe, it all comes back to the improvisations with chants going."

But Creole Soul isn't just limited to Caribbean traditions, Etienne Charles also shows that he is adept to modern compositional tools as well. "I wrote the bass line for 'The Folks' with a twelve-tone row," explains Charles. "I kind of hid in a way that makes it normal to hear. I wrote it from three formal patterns C, G, B, Eb, then Ab, Bb, Db, F, and then F#, E, A, B. So it's three sets of tones of four that don't repeat themselves. Then I put chords to it that would naturally work harmonically so they completely conceal the fact that the bass line is [based] from a twelve-tone row. That's basically a conversation between two people—my parents. The way the melody works, they move parallel, then contrary, then they move parallel again. It's about how two people move and live together."

Selected Discography

Etienne Charles, Creole Soul (Culture Shock, 2013)

Etienne Charles, Kaiso (Culture Shock, 2011)

Etienne Charles, Folklore (Self Produced, 2009)

Scotty Barnhart, Say it Plain (Dig Music, 2009)

Cynthia Scott. Dream for One Bright World (CDBY, 2009)
Ralph McDonald, Mixty Motions (CDBY, 2008)

Etienne Charles, Culture Shock (Self Produced, 2006).

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Etienne Charles

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