Charles Tolliver is a master of all trades. The New York-based trumpeter, active since the 1960s, is a leading player, educator, big band leader, composer, and founder of the one of the greatest jazz labels of all time, Strata-East.
In Summer 2020, he will be releasing his first studio album in 13 years via Gearbox Records, entitled Connect. Recorded to tape at RAK Studios last November and engineered by Tony Platt (Bob Marley, Jazz Jamaica All Stars, Abdullah Ibrahim), the line-up features top musicians from the New York jazz scene who have collectively played with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, and Chick Corea. Forming as the Charles Tolliver All Stars, the band includes 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).
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 Darrel.”
An interview with BBC 3’s J to Z, which aired last Saturday and can be found HERE, discusses Charles’musical influences and announces the forthcoming album.
With a career spanning five decades, Tolliver first began playing professionally with saxophone Jackie Mclean. His recording debut was with McLean on Blue Note in 1964, and he went on to record and perform with artists Roy Haynes, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Max Roach, and many more. Entirely self-taught, Tolliver encapsulated his approach to improvising in a recent article with Downbeat by saying:
“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.”
Tolliver’s first ever recording under his own name was Paper Man, 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. The album was released via the iconic British label Black Lion and achieved great success and critical acclaim. 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.