Teddy Charles
(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
The Teddy Cohen Trio (1951), 5/10
New Directions (1952), 5.5/10
New Directions Vol. 2 (1953), 5.5/10
West Coasters (1953), 5/10
New Directions Vol. 3 (1953), 5.5/10
New Directions Vol. 4 (1953), 6.5/10
New Directions Vol. 5 (1954), 4/10
New Directions Quartet (1955), 6/10
Tenet (1956), 6.5/10
Word From Bird (1956), 6.5/10
Touche (1957), 6.5/10
Vibe-Rant Quintet (1957), 6/10
Coolin (1957), 6/10
The Prestige Jazz Quartet (1957), 6/10

Teddy Charles Cohen (1928), a white vibraphonist (mainly known as "Teddy Charles"), debuted as a leader in a bebop trio with a guitarist and a bassist, The Teddy Cohen Trio (november 1951). The EP New Directions (december 1952) documented a quartet that added drummer Ed Shaughnessy (Edging Out), while the EP New Directions Vol 2 (january 1953) featured a trio with piano and drums (Metalizing). A sextet with altoist Frank Morgan and tenorist Wardell Gray was documented on the EP West Coasters (february 1953). Charles' music was moving out of bebop, with loose concept of tempo and harmonies that bordered on dissonance. If the material of these early recordings was mostly covers, four original Charles compositions (Wailing Dervish, Variations On a Motive By Bud, Further Out and Etudiez Le Cahier) in a much different vein, closer to cool jazz and the third stream, surfaced on the EP New Directions Vol 3 (august 1953), for a quartet with trumpet (Shorty Rogers), bass and drums (Shelly Manne). The EP New Directions Vol 4 (august 1953) added Jimmy Giuffre on saxophone to the quartet for Free, Margo and Bobalob that predated both modal improvisation and free jazz. After an inferior EP, New Directions Vol 5 (january 1954) by a quintet with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and a vocalist (Loup-Garou), and the EP New Directions Quartet (january 1955), that contained Relaxo Abstracto and featured a tenor saxophone and Charles Mingus on bass, Charled formed an ambitious Tentet (january 1956) with trumpet (Art Farmer), trombone, alto, baritone and tenor saxophones, guitar, piano (Mal Waldron), bass and drums. Green Blues and the eight-minute The Emperor gave a graver tone to Charles' fusion of classical and jazz music.

Those ideas were further explored in the ten-minute Word From Bird for an even bigger ensemble and the ten-minute version of Blue Greens for the piano-quartet with Mingus, both off Word From Bird (october 1956), in the three extended Charles pieces (Blues Without Woe, Hello Frisco, Dakar) on Touche (february 1957), also known as Olio, a collaboration with trumpeter Thad Jones and tenorist Frank Wess, featuring a rhythm section with pianist Mal Waldron and drummer Elvin Jones, in the three main attractions (Blues Become Elektra, Arlene and No More Nights) of the trumpet-based Vibe-Rant Quintet (april 1957), again with Waldron on piano, in the eight-minute Bunni on Coolin' (april 1957) for another sextet with Waldron, and especially in the 14-minute Take Three Parts Jazz Suite on The Prestige Jazz Quartet (june 1957) in a quartet with Waldron.

Charles was at the peak of his inspiration, but he retired from the music business after a few more recordings.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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