Charlton Singleton, Crossroads Review
By Sylvannia Garutch
Charlton Singleton is a native of Awendaw, SC, that received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from South Carolina State University. Since then, he has taught music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and has been an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston. In 2008 he co-founded and became the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, an 18 piece jazz ensemble of some of the finest professional musicians in the Southeast and the resident big band in Charleston, SC. Singleton is also the organist and choir director at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston, SC. He was named the inaugural Artist in Residence at downtown Charleston’s recently renovated Gaillard Center. Singleton was named Artist in Residence Emeritus and led the Summer Youth Jazz Orchestra Camp and led the “Jazz Through the Ages” assembly, which attracts a capacity crowd of students at the Gaillard Center. He is a founding member of the ensemble Ranky Tanky and is in demand as a speaker, clinician, composer, and arranger. Singleton is now releasing an album titled Crossroads. The album features a collection of originals presented by Singleton, Mark Sterbank (tenor sax), Demetrius Doctor (piano), Kevin Hamilton and Delbert Felix (bass), and Quentin Baxter (drums and percussion).
The title track opens the album with a catchy bass line, bluesy piano fills, and a memorable melody for two horns. Sterbank’s solo is developed through the form with patience and concentration on melody and time feel. Doctor’s piano solo continues the bluesy colors and adds shifting harmonic patterns and motifs. The feel is transformed to swing with a short interlude as Singleton takes his ride over the form in a swing setting. His tone is warm, and he concentrates on simple melodies. Finally, Baxter solo against an ostinato before the ensemble returns to the theme.
“PS (Post Script)” is a straight-eight selection with another well-written two-horn melody. Singleton’s tone is very warm in this selection, and his solo again focuses on simple themes with a flowing time feel. The ensemble supports Singleton with energy and a deep sense of time. Doctor also keeps the time feel at the center as he performs a melodic solo. Baxter’s colors under Sterbank’s solo are impressive and adds direction to the music.
Singleton shows his strong compositional skills and focuses on simple direct solos throughout Crossroads. The ensemble follows suit, and the result is a set of easy to listen to jazz that will be of interest to jazz fans and music lovers alike.