Apr 3, 2019
The SFJazz Collective continues to be one of the most accomplished and exciting larger ensembles performing and recording in jazz today. An octet, the group operates democratically, choosing songs and arrangements together, rather than following a bandleader. Given that the current Collective lineup is made up of ALL bandleaders - Miguel Zenon, David Sanchez, Etienne Charles, Robin Eubanks, Warren Wolf, Edward Simon, Matt Brewer, and Obed Calvaire – that’s probably for the best.
The Collective is currently on tour with a rotating repertoire – some nights the music of Miles Davis, and other nights the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Previous tours had celebrating the music of artists like Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk and Stevie Wonder.
Etienne Charles and Matt Brewer are the newest members of the Collective, and I had the chance to speak with Etienne about the group, and also about his newest solo project Carnival – The Sound of a People, Volume 1. The new CD is a result of Etienne’s Guggenheim Fellowship, sending him back to his native Trinidad to record new and traditional music celebrating the island’s carnival celebration. He also made field recordings, giving a documentary feel to a set of music that is guaranteed to move your feet. And he promises multiple volumes before he finishes the project.
In addition to these two undertakings, Etienne has branched out into producing and writing for others. His arrangements are appearing on several singers releases this year, and he served as a producer, composer, arranger, trumpeter and percussionist on Petite Afrique by Somi, which won Outstanding Jazz Album at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards.
Podcast 672 is my conversation with Etienne Charles, featuring Charles’ arrangements of “Garoto” and “Ligia” from the SFJazz Collective album Live SFJazz Center 2018 - The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim; the Collective’s recording of “Tutu” from a concert held at the Philarmonie de Paris, in Paris, France on November 8, 2018; and “Moko Jumbie” from the newly released Carnival – The Sound of a People, Volume 1.