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 improvisational fury associated with those hard-blowing years.” –JazzTimes
“His sound is big and fierce and raw… defined by heady intellectual content and an animating inner fire.” –Downbeat
New York trumpeter, composer, and arranger Charles Tolliver’s first album in eleven years, Connect, will be released July 31 on Gearbox Records. WBGO premiered a new single entitled “Blue Soul,” which will be commercially available June 23, saying that the music has “so much driving urgency” and calling it “a hard-boppish tune with a backbeat groove.”
Recorded to tape at RAK Studios in London last November by Tony Platt (The Bad Plus, Abdullah Ibrahim, Bob Marley), the four-track album features the Charles Tolliver All-Stars, comprising some of the most experienced jazz musicians of New York: Jesse Davis on alto saxophone, Keith Brown on piano, Buster Williams on double bass, and Lenny White on drums. The album also bridges together New York and London by featuring leading British saxophonist Binker Golding on two tracks, (Binker & Moses, Moses Boyd Exodus, Zara McFarlane.) Connect will be Charles’ first release via London-based independent label Gearbox Records, who are responsible for recent releases by Abdullah Ibrahim, Binker & Moses, Butcher Brown, and Theon Cross.
On recording with Gearbox, Charles said, “… with both of our collective recording label expertise a recording of my touring band could and would be done. I chose to Connect consummate artists whose performances represent absolutely the real deal in this artform – Lenny White, Buster Williams, Jesse Davis, Keith Brown. The excellent artistry of Binker Golding was added for some tracks by [Gearbox founder] Darrel.”
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 eight 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.
In recent times, Charles issued his 2007 album, Grammy-nominated big band recording With Love through Blue Note, whilst 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 2009, he released a live big band album entitled Emperor March, recorded at the Blue Note in New York.
Charles’ first ever recording under his own name, Paper Man, was recorded in 1968 with a legendary line-up of Herbie Hancock on keys, Gary Bartz on saxophone, Ron Carter on double bass, and Joe Chambers on drums, and released via the iconic British label Black Lion. Today’s record Connect, released via British jazz-led label Gearbox Records, brings his association with British jazz into full circle, and shows the mentality of an artist who has achieved greatness yet constantly aspires to do more.