Charles Tolliver

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7.31.20 | Gearbox

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Charles Tolliver

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Charles Tolliver


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Rolling Stone: Best Jazz of 2020

6 paths through jazz in 2020: Charles Tolliver"Trumpeter Charles Tolliver linked up with fellow veterans Buster Williams and Lenny White on the...

LA Jazz Scene Review: Charles Tolliver

Album review for Charles Tolliver's Connect "One of the great trumpeters to emerge during the 1960s and ‘70s, Charles Tolliver always had a fat and...

Bandcamp Interview: Charles Tolliver’s New Album, Connect

Jazz Icon Reflects On His 50-Plus Years in Music"There’s no title track on the new album from Charles Tolliver—his first in over a decade. But its...

Jazzwise Feature: Charles Tolliver’s Connect

The Best New Jazz Albums: Editor's Choice"Veteran trumpeter Charles Tolliver came to London in the 1960s as a member of Max Roach’s group, but he...

NPR Highlights Charles Tolliver’s Connect

Podcast Includes Connect Among Featured Albums"NPR Music's Bobby Carter, WBGO and Jazz Night in America's Nate Chinen, NPR Music contributor Gavin...

NYTimes Features Charles Tolliver’s “Emperor’s March”

NYT celebrates Tolliver's "triumphant blues variations" "The trumpeter Charles Tolliver’s compositions tend to balance syncopated elements as if...

All About Jazz: Charles Tolliver Feature

Blowing Down The Walls Of Trump’s Jericho"Tolliver's long and distinguished career continues to flourish, with a new album, Connect, recorded in...

WBGO Spotlight: Charles Tolliver

Self-Determined, Then and Now: A Focus on Charles Tolliver"Charles Tolliver has lived his share of jazz history. As a fiery young sideman with...

Stereogum: The Month In Jazz

Charles Tolliver, Connect (Gearbox Records)"Charles Tolliver is a legend not just for his fierce trumpet playing, but for his leadership."  |  Read...

Brooklyn Vegan: Track Premiere “Suspicion”

Jazz veteran Charles Tolliver preps first album in 11 years"NYC jazz trumpeter Charles Tolliver has been at it for over 50 years -- as both a...

Gearbox To Release ‘Connect,’ First Charles Tolliver Album In A Decade

Connect Out July 10 "'I like to rumble,' Tolliver said in a press release. “'I take the most difficult routes for improvisation.'"  |  Read More at...

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NPR Music, NYTimes, Mojo Hail NY Jazz Trumpet Legend Charles Tolliver’s First Album In Over a Decade, ‘Connect’ (Gearbox Records)

Connect earning glowing reviews NYC jazz trumpet legend Charles Tolliver’s new album ‘Connect’ (Gearbox Records / July 31), recorded in London with...

“Formidable & Adventurous” (NPR) Trumpeter Charles Tolliver’s First New Album In 11 Years, Connect, Out July 31 On Gearbox Records

New Single "Blue Soul" Premiered by WBGO, Out June 23“One of the last significant trumpet players from the 1960s still unleashing the kind of...



Dizzy Gillespie, when asked in a Downbeat magazine interview with Herb Nolan, “what trumpet players do you hear today whom you like”, Dizzy’s reply, “Charles Tolliver – I like him”. Charles Tolliver, entirely self-taught, is a remarkable talent who has gained an outstanding reputation as a trumpetist, bandleader, composer, arranger, and educator. Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1942, his musical career began at the age of 8 when his beloved grandmother, Lela, presented him with his first instrument, a cornet, and the inspiration to learn.

After a few years of college majoring in pharmacy at Howard University, and formulating his trumpet style, Charles began his professional career with the saxophone giant Jackie Mclean. Making his recording debut with McLean on Blue Note Records in 1964, Charles has since recorded and/or performed with such renowned artists as Roy Haynes, Hank Mobley, Willie Bobo, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Booker Ervin, Gary Bartz, Herbie Hancock, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Oliver Nelson, Andrew Hill, Louis Hayes, Roy Ayers, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, and Max Roach.

Charles Tolliver has been a recipient of the Downbeat Critic’s Choice for the Trumpet category. In 1969 he formed the quartet Music Inc which has become internationally respected for its innovative trumpet quartet approach. Charles and his Music Inc, has toured in North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan performing at festivals, concerts, radio and television stations. In 1970 he and his alter ego fellow musician artist Stanley Cowell created Strata-East Records which he has steadfastly kept alive straight into the present. During the ’80s and ’90s he continued touring with his small group, MUSIC INC, and on a number of occasions performed his large ensemble compositions and arrangements as soloist with practically every European Radio/TV Jazz orchestra.

Having already issued on his Strata-East label two critically acclaimed big band LPs, “Music Inc & Big Band” and “Impact”, now in the new millennium he once again returned to the big band format. In 2007 he issued on Blue Note Records his big band recording entitled, “With Love” which was immediately Grammy Nominated. The Jazz Journalists Association presented him with the “Best Large Ensemble of the Year 2007” award for his new tour de force group The Charles Tolliver Big Band. In an historic reenactment & presentation at Town Hall in 2009 for the 50th anniversary celebration of Thelonious Monk’s historic 1959 Town Hall concert, he was featured performing his definitive transcription of the lost scores of arranger Hal Overton’s orchestrations of Thelonious’ music exactly as it was performed & recorded for the original concert. His newest big band CD “Emperor March” recorded live at the Blue Note New York City was released in March 2009.

Charles has perfected an extremely individual and distinctive sound which clearly sets him apart from other trumpet players. Characterized by a strong sense of tradition, he said in a recent Downbeat magazine interview about his approach to improvising that, “I like to rumble. I take the most difficult routes for improvisation. It’s easy to play a number of choruses effortlessly and never make a mistake, never break down. That’s no fun. You need to get in hot water by trying something out right from the jump, get yourself out of that, and move on to the next chorus.”

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