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Friday 13 December 2019
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Creole Christmas to explore Venezuelan roots

Etienne Charles -
Etienne Charles -

MUSICIAN Etienne Charles will stage the Creole Christmas 2.0: Venezuelan Roots concert at NAPA next month.

The concert is a musical celebration of the Christmas season with emphasis on the myriad influences from TT's Venezuelan neighbours.

It will feature special guests including, New York-based, folk singer Betsayda Machado. Machado is known as "the Voice of Venezuela" and has been hailed by the New York Times as “vital, accomplished, local, unplugged, deeply rooted,” said a media release.

The special guest line-up also includes world-renowned trombone soloist, composer and recording artist Wycliffe Gordon; and local favourite Relator who, alongside Gordon, was featured on Charles’ 2015 classic album, Creole Christmas.

Adding to the music variety in the stellar line-up are his longtime collaborators Sullivan Fortner (on piano), who recently won a Grammy Award for his work with Cecile McLorin Salvant; Haitian-American saxophonist Godwin Louis and the Latin Grammy Award-winning Venezuelan cuatro virtuoso Jorge Glem.

Coming to TT for the first time will be Israeli bassist Or Bareket, young drumset phenom Savannah Harris and Venezuelan percussionist Daniel Prim. With such variety in the line-up Charles is eagerly looking forward to the musical celebration.

“This concert is a reunion. This concert is family, love and fellowship through music. The energy of the Christmas season in TT is palpable and I can’t wait to celebrate with so many amazing musicians,” he said in the release.

In addition to his dynamic performances, Charles has become well known for his arrangements, specifically those featuring vocalists. Creole Christmas 2.0 will showcase his arranging styles for this ensemble and its guests.

In March 2019, Charles was featured in the New York Times on the worldwide release of his landmark album Carnival: The Sound of a People Vol 1. He was described as having “developed a magnetic sound on trumpet — clear and mellifluous, with a deep sense of economy; redolent of both Roy Hargrove and Chocolate Armenteros — and he’s becoming a composer to be reckoned with.”

His most recent tour included Madrid, Paris, London, Munich, Trieste, Martinique, St Vincent, New York, Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Gainesville (Florida) and Miami.

He has appeared on stages with notable musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Monty Alexander, Gerald Wilson, Roberta Flack, Frank Foster, the Count Basie Orchestra, Maria Schneider, Johnny Mandel and Benny Golson.

He has won numerous awards, including the Sunshine Award (2018), Jazz at Lincoln Center Millennial Swing Award (2016), Florida State University Reuben O'D Askew Young Alumni Award (2016), Michigan State University Teacher Scholar Award (2016), John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts (2015), Caribbean Heritage Trailblazer Award (2013), US Congressional Record (2012), and The Juilliard School William Schuman Prize (2008). In 2015 he was the youngest inductee into the Fatima College alumni hall of fame.

Creole Christmas 2.0: Venezuelan Roots will be presented by Monlo Music Ltd at 7 pm on December 5 at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium, Frederick Street, Port of Spain.

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