Trinidad native and Juilliard-trained trumpeter Etienne Charles artfully and organically blends Afro-Caribbean folkloric music and jazz improvisation on his second recording as a leader. With a lineup of international all-stars including Guadeloupean tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Serbian pianist Milan Milanović, Trinidadian steel pans player Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, veteran percussionist Ralph MacDonald and the powerful rhythm tandem of bassist Luques Curtis and the extraordinary young drummer Obed Calvaire, Charles establishes the rich premise on the opening title track then explores the fusion further on a suite of music based on West African-Caribbean mythology.
Each tune here is named for a different character in Afro-Caribbean folkloric tradition—“Douens,” “Dance With la Diablesse,” “Soucouyant,” “Mama d’lo,” “Mama Malade” and “Papa Bois.” Charles, a brilliant technician with a bright sound and sharp attack, is complemented on the frontline by the powerful playing of Schwarz-Bart. Together they harness hard-bop energy, push into heightened Trane territory, settle into gorgeous ballads and traverse a whole litany of Trinidadian rhythms. A daring improviser, Charles also delivers with heart-wrenching lyricism on the beautiful ballad “Mysterieuse.” A fascinating, fully realized hybrid.