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Lansing JazzFest Artist Feature: Etienne Charles

Stefanie Pohl

Lansing JazzFest Artist Feature: Etienne Charles

CREATED Aug. 1, 2012

The 18th annual Lansing JazzFest will be held in Old Town this weekend, August 3rd-4th.

A two-day free festival, JazzFest brings the best artists locally and nationally to Old Town, giving the community an opportunity to experience all types of jazz music.

Etienne Charles, currently an assistant professor of Jazz at the MSU College of Music, will be performing on Saturday, August 4th, on the Jackson National stage.

We spoke with Charles, the 2006 National Trumpet Competition winner, about his influences, his sound, and what it's like working with the next generation of jazz musicians.


STEFANIE POHL: You're from Trinidad - how does that history influence the flavor of jazz music you play?

ETIENNE CHARLES: There's definitely a strong Caribbean element to it, so we bring that flavor to it.


Etienne Charles' musical influences begin right at home: his family's history with music goes back four generations, and he lists Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Lionel Belasco and others as those who contributed to his interest in jazz.


SP: You just wrapped up teaching at the MSU Jazz Camp and teach at the MSU College of Music. Describe the experience you've had with these young, aspiring musicians.

EC: It's important - they're very energetic. Youth always brings energy to music, so they're bringing light into jazz. It's always fun working with them.

SP: What can fans expect from your performance at JazzFest?

EC: I'd say to expect the unexpected. Come out and have a good time. We want them to feel good. We want you come to forget about any inhibitions or preconceived notions about the music. Just come to experience the music. And Old Town is great - so come to experience Old Town and good music. That's what we're bringing.


Be sure to check out Etienne Charles at JazzFest this Saturday, August 4th from 7:30-9:00PM on the Jackson National stage.

See Etienne and his bandmates in action in this making-of film of his second album, Folklore: