It's Carnival Time in Toronto

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Friday November 16, 2018

From Post City Toronto

It’s carnival time in Toronto
By: Ron Johnson

Etienne Charles grew up with the sights and sounds of carnival in and around his childhood home in Trinidad and Tobago. But it was in the decidedly chillier climes of Toronto in the company of a certain uncle that he heard the music that would set him on course to becoming one of the most exciting new jazz composers and performers on the planet. ‘When I was little, my sister and I and my mom went to visit my uncle in Toronto,’ says Charles. ‘He pulled out a sax and played it for us, and he let me try it. And from then on, I was hooked on making sounds. That same uncle gave me a trumpet many years later, so yeah, Toronto has a big role to play in my becoming a musician.’

Three years ago, Charles, who is also a professor of jazz studies at Michigan State University, got a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation to compose a suite of music inspired by carnival, and he returned home to immerse himself once again in this tradition.

He travelled across the country, meeting and recording artists on the streets and used these sessions to inspire and inform the album. ‘It was always about introducing them and their sounds and their traditions, and then showing my musical reaction to it as a composer and improviser,’ says Charles. ‘It is really a dialogue.’

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