In this one-time-only double bill, Trinidadian-American trumpeter Etienne Charles premieres “Gullah Roots,” an SMF-commissioned work that explores the Afro-Caribbean connections to Gullah music and the Gullah connections to American Music. Charles has exhibited both an authentic preservation of the music of his native culture of Trinidad as a composer and bandleader, while broadening our scope of understanding through the collaborative sound of American jazz as it meets new colors, new textures and new motifs across the world. His new work was written especially for this occasion and this illustrious sextet.
“Ranky Tanky” translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky.” South Carolina natives Quentin Baxter, Kevin Hamilton, Charlton Singleton and Clay Ross first came together in 1998 to form a seminal Charleston jazz quartet. Now, united by years apart and a deeper understanding of home, they are joined by celebrated low-country vocalist Quiana Parler to revive a “Heartland of American Music” born in their own backyards. Ranky Tanky performs the timeless music of Gullah culture born in the southeastern Sea Island region of the United States. From playful game songs to ecstatic shouts, from heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies, the musical roots of Charleston are “rank” and fertile ground from which these contemporary artists are grateful to have grown.