The Bellevue Jazz & Blues Festival also includes Lee Oskar, Shemekia Copeland, Gail Pettis and Pearl Django.
The Bellevue Jazz & Blues Festival has an especially attractive headliner this year in Etienne Charles, a trumpet player originally from Trinidad who approaches jazz in its original New Orleans spirit as Caribbean “Creole” music.
A strong, storytelling soloist with a bright, full tone and confident swagger that recall New Orleanian Terence Blanchard, Charles, 32, released an impressive concept album last year, “San Jose Suite,” a 10-part composition inspired by three cities named San Jose — in California, Costa Rica and Trinidad.
The album trades in the warm, creamy sound and jaunty rhythms of Fender Rhodes-lined ’70s jazz fusion, but with a seriousness of purpose (including some California history about segregation) that belies its recreational hedonism. Conversant with a panoply of rhythms from the African diaspora — calypso, reggae, etc. — Charles is also consummately acquainted with bebop and the jazz tradition, thanks in part to his tutelage by pianist Marcus Roberts.
Charles appears with his band Creole Soul at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, at the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, 11100 N.E. Sixth St., Bellevue; $10-$25 (800-838-3006 or bellevuedowntown.com).
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Other festival headliners start Wednesday, June 1, with Seattle soul trio McTuff, continue with harmonica master Lee Oskar Thursday, June 2, and close with blues singer Shemekia Copeland on Saturday, June 4.
The Bellevue spree also features a showcase of Northwest players at various Bellevue venues, including Overton Berry, Pearl Django, Mark DuFresne and Gail Pettis, as well as a host of student jazz groups.