For the first three weekdays in August, young lions in the sphere of jazz music in Trinidad preened and pointed the way for musicians of other genres and generations to duplicate. On Monday, Aug 3, Etienne Charles launched his new CD Folklore at a listening party at the jazz-themed restaurant, Satchmo's in Woodbrook. In anticipation of a short live set, the crowd grew larger than the dining room that hosted it as the night moved on. Etienne, and fellow young lion, saxophonist, Tony Woodroffe, Jr., recently back from studies at Leeds University, played their instruments with a maturity belying their ages.
Etienne's music represents the genesis of a transformational moment that comes in generations. Back in 1956, Sparrow and his Jean and Dinah marked that kind of generational shift that propelled calypso forward through the shortened zenith of the Belafonte's Calypso age a year hence. Trinidad and the diaspora are richer for Charles' and Woodroffe's sojourn into the musical spaces that exist for local musicians who are brave enough to go into them without fear of the rhetoric of failure. Folklore is an impressive achievement, and solidifies in my mind that Etienne is at a place musically where most local musicians have not even seen much less entered. Things can only get better with more interaction with this artist of both profound intellect and subtle style who uses the canon of local rhythm and melodies to create the new.