“Of all the trumpeters to come to prominence in the 60’s. Charles Tolliver was perhaps the most sensitive to the necessity of swinging.”
– Ira Gitler / The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the 70s
Charles Tolliver’s first studio album in 13 years, CONNECT, was released by Gearbox Records on July 31, 2020.
During the 60s Charles Tolliver worked extensively with several leading bop musicians of the time including Jackie McLean, with whom he was debuted on the 1964 Blue Note recording “IT’S TIME”, and the bands of Art Blakey, and Sonny Rollins. For a short stint he also performed in the Gerald Wilson orchestra, in whose band he met Roy Ayers.
He recorded with both Wilson and Ayers as leaders and he was a member of the Max Roach Quintet, recording the 1968 Atlantic Records session Members Don’t Get Weary. At the end of the 60s he was a founder member of the cooperative quartet, Music, Inc. Another member of this band was Stanley Cowell with whom Tolliver formed the cult label Strata-East.
In 2007, Charles released the big band album With Love, which was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. He followed this up two years later with another big band release, Emperor March: Live at the Blue Note.
2015 saw a wonderful celebration of Strata-East. Charles was joined by the Strata-East All Stars (Stanley Cowell, Alvin Queen, Billy Harper, Cecil McBee and special guest Jean Carne) for three European concerts, culminating in a performance at the Barbican hosted by BBC 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson.
In 2018 the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival honoured Charles’s 50th Anniversary of his seminal first leader recording “Charles Tolliver Allstars – PAPER MAN” Polydor/Arista/Strata-East with a performance by Charles, his original recording mate Gary Bartz and Jason Moran, Buster Williams, and Jack DeJohnette occupying the chairs of the original recording rhythm section Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Joe Chambers.
2020 saw the release of ‘CONNECT’ (Gearbox Records), a very welcome return to form that was Charles’ first recording as a leader in over a decade. The album received glowing reviews, with All About Jazz saying ‘…the album finds Tolliver still at the top of his game in a recording career which began in the mid 1960s…He fronts a US quintet which brings with it the grit and groove of a mid-1960s Blue Note hard-bop band while sounding totally 2020…Tolliver is jazz royalty’.
In 2019 Charles was honored with the “LIVING JAZZ LEGACY AWARD” by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and in 2022 by Jazz Foundation of America with the “Lifetime Achievement Award.