We are always on the lookout for up-and-coming talent, and were naturally drawn to local saxophonist Charles Earl. As he preps his debut album, we checked in with him on his music and his thoughts on the state of the genre.
Metro Times: What drew you to jazz versus other musical forms of expression?
Charles Earl: I love improvisation, the grooves, and the ability to be who you want to be. These things made me love this music.
MT: How have you grown since you first started out?
Earl: I've learned so much musically. I've learned that different audiences look for different things, depending on the setting. I've learned when to play a certain idea, instead of just playing a bunch of licks or predefined ideas, all the time. Your sound is everything. It should be worked on every day! Take care of your business, and be on time for everything. Never burn a bridge. The person you laugh at today might be the one hiring you tomorrow.
MT: How do you feel about the current state of the music in general?
Earl: Jazz has declined in popularity over the years, but its importance as a language is still relevant. Jazz harmonies and phrasing are used in many different forms, and the genre itself is still evolving.
MT: Many feel its impact on the musical culture has been dismissed. What are your thoughts?
Earl: Jazz isn't the popular music it once was, so its impact on culture is limited to its listeners and community. That's not to say that those listeners don't pass along the knowledge to others through other forms of music and art, but the culture that was created around the music and its language has changed a lot over the years. There once were countless places to jam, work on your craft, and play gigs.
Jazz jam sessions are largely replaced by R&B ones; they are almost a thing of the past. These jam sessions provide very little time to work on any ideas. Though things have changed, jazz is still the foundation to improvised music. It's taught in schools and colleges around the world, and its language is still king to many musicians.
MT: Tell me about your new music; what are you working on?
Earl: My current project is also my first, and I'm very excited for people to hear what I've been working on for the last year. The name of my album is Love and Sax. We featured all Detroit musicians to help finish this project. While we do not have a release date for the project, I do hope to have it completed by fall, with a release date soon after. My first single will be released next month to start promoting the new project.
MT: How do you feel about the current state of the Detroit jazz scene?
Earl: Detroit's jazz scene isn't what it used to be because of the lack of places to perform, but we have some of the world's best musicians right here in our city. The jazz scene has declined over the years in many cities, but there are still a few places you can go to work on your sound and technique. With the resurgence of the downtown area, I hope that there will be more opportunities for cats to play, and work. We just need the people to come out and support live music so club and bar owners will keep hiring the wonderful talent we have here.