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Etienne Charles: A Creole Christmas

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Thursday December 20, 2018

From WBGO

From The Checkout Archives: Trumpeter Etienne Charles Celebrates ‘A Creole Christmas’
By: Simon Rentner

A few years ago, the Trinidadian jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles released A Creole Christmas, a brilliant musical meld of Christian hymns, Venezuelan parangs, and island calypsos. He brought that festive sound into our studio in 2016, leading a sharp and versatile band.

As on A Creole Christmas, Charles warmly shared some of the customs he grew up with in his Caribbean household ‘” the months-long process of soaking cherry wine and rum to make black cake; the meticulous cleaning of his house before Christmas morning; and his culture’s unique caroling tradition, known as parang.

‘So we have the sacred songs we sing, which are the hymns that you sing in church,’ Charles said, ‘and then we also have the semi-sacred tradition of parang, which is where we sing songs about nativity in Spanish ‘” a Venezuelan folk tradition that came to Trinidad. And then on top of all that, the third tradition we have is singing calypsos.’

Listen here