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Etienne Charles: The Sound of a People

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Tuesday January 16, 2018

From Trinidad and Tobago: Newsday

Charles Shows the Sound of a People
By: Lisa Allen-Agostini

“We’re here because we love real Carnival,” said Etienne Charles at the opening of his panel discussion and screening of two music videos of pieces from his jazz suite Carnival: The Sound of a People. With a 2015 Guggenheim grant, he embarked on a project to seek and document the musical roots of Carnival.

The short videos—Nunes called them “filmic music videos”—showed images from field recordings of bawling Paramin blue devil troupes with their iconic biscuit-tin drums, and of the Claxton Bay Tamboo Bamboo troupe performing bongo music in the road. These richly textured, vibrant and atmospheric recordings were edited with footage of Charles composing the score, and then of Charles performing the respective pieces—Black Echo III: Bamboo, and Jab Molassie—on stage at the Queen’s Hall show. The films’ editor Ivan Spee was also in the audience; Charles lauded his work.

Charles, in response to an audience member’s question, said he uses the videos on stage as part of his performance and to reflect his own composing technique. “People don’t just listen to music anymore,” he said, “they watch music.”

Read more about Etienne’s project here