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Jazz April Birthday #13: Teddy Charles 1928-2012 | April 13, 2013

Teddy Charlescredit: BARBARAELLEN KOCH

Teddy Charles
credit: BARBARAELLEN KOCH

Teddy Charles, jazz vibraphonist and composer, who during a career as a pioneering jazz musician played with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and other legendary performers, was also an accomplished classical pianist.

As a student at the Julliard School of Music in the mid 1940s, he haunted New York’s jazz clubs, occasionally sitting in with the bands on vibes or piano.  His break came unexpectedly one night when he was asked to sit in on piano with Coleman Hawkin’s band for the overdue Thelonious Monk.

Teddy’s other love was the sea.  He was always working on a boat restoration or two, and ran a charter boat service.

Leading a boat and leading a band: In both activities, there’s only the truth. If you’re on the sea, you have your own vessel that only you put together, your own crew. You work with the sea, or you lose. It’s the same in art, not just jazz. There’s no way you can take it.

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