“Antillean art is this restoration of our shattered histories...”
—DEREK WALCOTT, Nobel lecture, 1992.
“The scars by which America is marked are deep... The evils are manifest, naked to the view of anyone who cares to see them.”
—ÓSCAR ARIAS SÁNCHEZ, Nobel lecture, 1987.
“For me, Art is the restoration of order. It may discuss all sort of terrible things, but there must be satisfaction at the end. A little bit of hunger, but also satisfaction.”
—TONI MORRISON, Nobel laureate. Interview with Don Swaim, 1987
Whenever T&T jazz trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles releases an album, it is an event. In this case, it is his latest opus, the ten-part San José Suite — soon to be performed live in T&T for the first time on November 20. [The album was released in June this year.] This suite dares to magnify the idea of the wider Americas as a crucible for the continuing assimilation and transformation of disparate musical influences. It is a space where the Naipaulian idea of “small places with simple economies bred small people with simple destinies” is turned on its head forever.
Charles uses the coincidence of the name of San José to make a subliminal link between the Caribbean, Latin American and North American cultural tendencies. The real commonality is the idea of the African diaspora intersection with the Native American antecedents to act as the base for a new direction in jazz.