The Return of Teddy Charles (2008)

Teddy Charles house jam
Teddy Charles house jam at his home in Riverside, NY – photo courtesy of NewYorkBrass

I’m delighted to report that Teddy Charles, who turned 80 on April 13, 2008, has made a significant and welcome return to the New York City jazz scene in recent years. Here are a few milestones, particularly ones which I had the pleasure of attending.

On April 23, 2003, Charles performed in a trio setting with clarinetist Perry Robinson and bassist Ed Schuller at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City. Robinson and Charles had never worked together before this event. It was fascinating to hear the interactions between the unabashedly “outside” clarinetist and the more controlled but still adventurous Charles. Hopefully more collaborations of this type will take place.

On April 17, 2005, I heard Charles perform with the Tony DiGregorio Trio (Tony DiGregorio, guitar; Tony Oblaney, bass; Keith Dorgan, drums) at DEKK in TriBeCa. The quartet swung compellingly through a variety of jazz standards on a lovely, warm afternoon in lower Manhattan.

Charles appeared as a special guest with the Chris Byars Quartet at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City on October 12 & 13, 2007. Performing some of Charles’s own compositions, the ensemble included John Mosca on trombone, Ari Roland on bass and Stefan Schatz on drums with Chris Byars on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones and flute. It is hoped that the Byars/Charles collaboration will lead to a recording at some point in the future.

On February 21, 2008, Charles performed at Smalls Jazz Club with Ari Roland (bass), Sacha Perry (piano), Ned Goold (saxophone) and Phil Stewart (drums).

Teddy Charles appeared at the Village Vanguard March 25-30, 2008 with Chris Byars (saxophones and flute), John Mosca (trombone), Sacha Perry (piano), Ari Roland (bass) and Stefan Schatz (drums).

The Teddy Charles Sextet [Chris Byars (sax, flute), John Mosca (trombone), Steve Ash (piano), Pat O’Leary (bass), Tom Melito (drums)] did four nights at Iridium in New York City, August 28-31, 2008.

The Teddy Charles Tentet made it’s first public appearance in many years at Smalls on October 3 & 4, 2008. Personnel: Richie Vitale (trumpet), John Mosca (trombone) or Marcus Rojas (tuba), Chris Byars (alto sax), Peter Anderson (tenor sax), Mark Lopeman (baritone sax), William Ash (guitar), Steve Ash (piano), Ari Roland (bass), Stefan Schatz (drums). This was followed by performances at The Riverdale YM-YWHA on October 6 & 7, 2008.

Teddy Charles returned to the recording studio for the first time in over forty years in July 2008, for the Smalls Records label. He was supported by the Chris Byars quartet and special guest Harold Danko.

Netherlands Tour: Teddy Charles spent several weeks in The Netherlands in November 2008 playing gigs with local musicians and performing his composition “Word From Bird” in Leiden at an event honoring composer David Broekman, a native of that city; see the Vrije Geluiden Website.

“Word from Bird” Performance Series at Iridium, March 19-22, 2009: On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Teddy Charles kicked off this series dedicated to the music of Charlie Parker by participating in an historic reunion with the great pianist Hank Jones. The quartet was rounded out with bassist Paul Gill and drummer Kenny Washington. The next two evenings featured the Tentet performing old and new compositions including “Word from Bird.” On Sunday, Charles appeared with Chris Byars premiering a new piece the saxophonist composed, “Bop-ography” and celebrating the release of Charles’s new CD “Dances With Bulls.”

“The Chris Byars Quartet Celebrates Teddy Charles” – This event took place at The Players Theater in New York City on June 10, 2009. Teddy Charles performed “Bop-ography” with Byars’s small group augmented by James Byars on oboe and English horn as well as “Word From Bird” with the Tentet. Funding was provided by a grant from Chamber Music America.

Teddy Charles appears on three tracks of Chris Byars’s 2009 CD “Bop-ography” recorded for the SteepleChase label.

The Teddy Charles Quartet, with longtime associate Harold Danko on piano, appeared at New York’s Kitano Hotel on April 23 and 24, 2010.

On April 27, 2010, at the SUNY Fredonia School of Music, Teddy Charles presented a lecture on the history and development of the vibraphone in the jazz idiom and a master class under the auspices of the Fredonia Percussion Guild.

Teddy Charles appeared at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute festival “East Coast Sounds: Out of the Cool & Into the Hot” on May 30, 2010. In the ensemble were saxophonist Kim Richmond, trumpeter Ron King, guitarist Doug MacDonald and drummer and longtime Charles associate Ed Shaughnessy.

Further information can be found at the websites of Teddy Charles and Chris Byars.

I am very sorry to report that Teddy Charles passed away on April 16, 2012 in Riverhead, NY. He was 84 years old.