Toronto's Caribbean Camera checks in on T&T Jazz Man, Etienne Charles

Etienne Charles and his trumpet waiting out this virus 



By Stephen Weir
In the old days (last month) jazz man Etienne Charles was a man in motion. Always on the move. He was here. He was there.  He was up on the stage. He was in the air.

But that was then.  In the here and now, the 36-year old trumpeter is just like all of our readers.  He has been grounded, his luggage in storage and he is waiting out the virus in his home in Michigan.

Trinidad’s Charles holds a master's of music degree from Juilliard and teaches at Michigan State University. He travels the world playing concerts, recording music and playing Mas in T&T and Canada!

"The reason I'm a trumpet player began when I was on a family trip to Toronto as a three-year-old," the trumpeter, recording star, composer, bandleader and teacher told the Camera.“ I visited an uncle and was able to make a sound on his saxophone. At age 10, the same uncle gave me a trumpet and a different musical life opened up, one that incorporated new sounds with calypso as its root.”

Charles moved up to Florida when he was 19. There he studied music and began playing jazz.  He has now recorded 6 CDs, has performed at the White House and has won many accolades. Two years ago he received the New York City Caribbean Sunshine Award for excellence in the performing arts.

Need some quarantine relief? What is the jazz man doing at home ? Yesterday, Stephen Weir had a text message con- versation with Charles – Weir in downtown Toronto and Charles in the United States.
Question: You are famous for your touring and your seemingly unending supply of get-up-and-go, what was 2020 shaping up to be for you before the shutdown?
Answer:  2020 was shaping up great! I had already finished two tours and about to start the 3rd when lockdown happened. 

Question: Have you been able to use this enforced downtime to be creative and if so what might appear when you emerge from Perdu?

Answer: Definitely being creative. First thing that has emerged is my new web channel Creole Soul TV! Creole Soule TV | Etienne Charles (Currently showing on Etienne Charles channel is a hour and a half concert he recorded with a big band live at the Jazz Standard Club in New York City).

Question:  What does the future hold for you - will you be coming back to Toronto?  Is your band still intact? 

Answer: Right now it is more music! This summer will be quiet. I am looking forward to (teaching the) fall semester at Michigan State University and to playing some rescheduled concerts with my group. Hopefully we’ll get back to Toronto at some point. 

Question: What are your thoughts on the pandemic and how it is changing the world?  Do you see the music world - from concerts, to fetes and happenings - returning to the way it was, or what do you think the new normal will be?

Answer: It’s interesting to watch. I’ve been taking it all in. Haven’t developed an opinion yet, just experiencing it. For now, this is the new normal. 
Question: How are your friends and family doing these days?
Answer: Friends and family are cool thanks for asking!


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