Denis Charles

Denis Charles (December 4, 1933 – March 26, 1998) was a jazz drummer.


Charles was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and first played bongos at age seven with local ensembles in the Virgin Islands. In 1945 he moved to New York, and gigged frequently around town. In 1954 he began working with Cecil Taylor, and the pair collaborated through 1958. Following this he played with Steve Lacy, Gil Evans, and Jimmy Giuffre. He befriended Ed Blackwell, and the two influenced each other.

He recorded with Sonny Rollins on a calypso-tinged set, and then returned to time with Lacy, with whom he played until 1964. He worked with Archie Shepp and Don Cherry in 1967 and then disappeared from the record until 1971. In the 1970s and 1980s he played regularly on the New York jazz scene with Frank Lowe, David Murray, Charles Tyler, Billy Bang, and others, and also played funk, rock, and traditional Caribbean music. He released three discs as a leader between 1989-1992, and died of pneumonia in his sleep in New York City in 1998.[1]

Denis Charles died four days after a five-week European tour with the Borgmann/Morris/Charles (BMC) Trio, with Wilber Morris and Thomas Borgmann. His last concert with this trio took place at the Berlin Willy-Brandt-Haus. With the BMC Trio he recorded in his last two years about four CDs. The fifth CD was released after he died: The Last Concert - Dankeschön, Silkheart Records, 1999.

In 2002 Veronique N. Doumbe released a film documentary Denis A. Charles: An Interrupted Conversation about the life of Denis Alphonso Charles.[2]


As leaderEdit

As sidemanEdit

With Cecil Taylor

With Steve Lacy

With Gil Evans

With Sonny Rollins

With Archie Shepp

With Peter Kuhn

  • 1979: Livin' Right (Big City)
  • 1981: The Kill (Soul Note)

With Billy Bang

With Jemeel Moondoc

With Wilber Morris and Charles Tyler

  • 1981: Collective Improvisations (Bleu Regard, 1994)

With The Jazz Doctors (Rafael Garrett, Frank Lowe, Billy Bang)

With Rob Brown

With William Parker

With John Blum (pianist)

  • 1998: Astrogeny (Eremite, 2005)

With Raphe Malik


External linksEdit