San Jose Suite Etienne Charles
(Culture Shock Music)
Jazz in the wider Americas is more than improvisation that engages the blues and swing, but an evolving exploration of sounds, rhythms and cultural tendencies that inform the music that is the definition of freedom. San Jose Suite, Etienne Charles’ sixth album, is a mature contemplation of this Trinidadian trumpeter’s wider encounters with the elements of creole music in the New World. Drawing inspiration from three San José cities in the Americas—Costa Rica, California and Trinidad—Charles re-tells the stories and histories of those communities, its people and their commonalities, with jazz that is both rhythmically diverse and harmonically expressive enough to never be cliched. “Cahuita”, “Boruca”, “Revolt”, “Speed City” are musical statements of keen observation, celebratory reflection and musical adroitness. This album is also a signal to the listener that jazz in the 21st century is in the hands of a burgeoning trumpet pioneer charting modern directions much like Armstrong, Davis and Marsalis before him.
Lifted By Love Samantha Gooden
Praise and worship songs with lyrics that focus on Christian faith and music that follows modern popular genre trends (pop, R&B, and reggae here) are the focus of contemporary Caribbean gospel music. Samantha Gooden—born in the UK, raised in Jamaica, living in Barbados now—is in a phase of her life where she recognises that her voice is a gift from God and she wants to freely share that gift with the world , “to reach out.” As such, on her debut 5-song EP, Lifted By Love, that is a precursor to a full length album to be released later this year, Gooden relates personal truths and shares testimonies that inspire, that exalt, that spur reflection from a listener willing to listen. She sings: “I am a child of the King / I am a child of the One who made everything,” in a voice that glorifies and honours her faith. Celebrating with her is easy to do.
(Krazi Music Records)
If ever an album title was apt, this is it. Queen, Destra Garcia’s new album, her eleventh, is both deserved and ironic. In an industry where soca accolades are still measured by competition wins instead of concert ticket sales and album sales, Destra stands out as the most popular female soca artist in the islands and diaspora without the added marketing push of that ever elusive title, never having won either road march or Soca Monarch. In 2016, this album compilation of recent Trinidad Carnival songs, including her recent hits “Dip and Ride” and “Normal”, including three duets featuring Jamaicans Peetah Morgan and Tanya Stephens, and chutney queen Drupatee Ramgoonai that challenge norms. Racy, ribald and risqué, the album and the artist continue to push all the right buttons—tight productions, varied tempos and rhythms, sonorous voice—to still keep crowds dancing in a career approaching twenty years, further reinforcing her earned moniker of the queen of bacchanal.
Sigui Stima (Single) Levi Silvanie
Levi Silvanie (pronounced LAY – vee) is a Curaçaoan singer-songwriter and one of his country’s most popular artists. His new single Sigui Stima, which in his native language Papiamentu loosely translates to “follow love,” is a clarion call for a kind of selflessness that recognises that material things alone can’t give satisfaction, but enveloping love in one’s life is necessary: “Smile /Pursue your happiness / Have no fear don’t wait too late cause you got one life to live.” Silvanie collaborated with Curaçaoan guitarist Willem Blankenburgh to create this song that sat on a shelf for nearly a decade only to be reborn after a recent tragedy in Curaçao: “Music gives me the strength to cope with these things,” Silvanie notes. Floating between EDM, pop and his native ritmo kombina, and sung in both English and Papiamentu, this tune percolates with a joyful message that grooves along to keeps it on high rotation in your head and heart.
- These reviews appear in the July/August 2016 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2016, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.