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Tobago, Trinidad

Saturday Video: Etienne Charles’ Stylish Ode to de Scary Soucouyant

Saturday Video: Etienne Charles’ Stylish Ode to de Scary Soucouyant

Halloween’s just a few short days away now, and if you know us then you know that means we’re checking the keyholes in our front doors extra closely for singe marks and carefully inspecting every inch of our necks each morning for bite marks… No, our seasonal paranoia has nothing to do with Dracula or vampires (at least in the traditional sense), but rather the uniquely West Indian blood sucker known as the Soucouyant!

We first revealed her scary side last Halloween, but this year we’re sharing a more stylish interpretation of the Soucouyant legend courtesy of a budding jazz legend in his own right, Etienne Charles.

In the video above, you can grove along a whirling, pulse-pounding musical thrill ride as Charles leads a wonderfully talented group of musicians on a Soucouyant’s chilling nighttime escapades. The pace throughout most of the piece stays hot, giving credence to the Soucouyant’s preferred mode of travel – a fireball through the sky – as well as the devilishly sexy undertones of this classic Caribbean duppy.

A fourth-generation Trinidadian musician and winner of the 2006 National Trumpet Competition, among other honors, Charles would seem to be the best-suited of today’s musicians to take us along such a journey. His is the type of raw, powerful, soaring and sophisticated jazz that many may be surprised to learn was home grown in our little corner of the world. At the same time, though, Charles doesn’t forget his roots in his music, seasoning his celebrated compositions with uniquely West Indian elements gleaned from his childhood and the influence of his musical family.

Soucouyant provides a brilliant example of Charles’ genius.

As a boy growing up in Trinidad in the 1980′s Charles would’ve known the Soucouyant legend well. The intensity and emotion of his playing really reflects this. When you hear him hit that high note at the close, you know he feels it… and he makes sure you feel it too!

Soucouyant is one of 11 tracks on Charles’ 2009 album Folklore. Each offers an updated interpretation of old Trini legends, including such duppies and spirits as the Douens, La Diablesse and Mama Malade. Pick up a copy of Folklore here, or search it out on iTunes and add a little class to your Caribbean Halloween celebrations…

 

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