Carlos Ward's first instrument was the clarinet at the age of 13 when he lived in Seattle, Washington, where he had relocated from Panama City. Later he attended the Navy School of Music and worked with Albert Mangelsdorff when he was stationed in Germany.
He recorded with Karl Berger's Quartet on ESP (1966), with Henry Grimes and Ed Blackwell. The same quartet, with Dave Holland in place of Henry Grimes, recorded for MIlestone in 1968.
He had a long-lasting association with Don Cherry: from The Third World (also with Abdullah Ibrahim) through his appearance as featured soloist on the 1973 recording of Cherry's Relativity Suite to the band Nu during the 1980s and beyond.
- 1988: Lito
- 1994: Faces
- 1995: Live at the Bug & Other Sweets
- 1998: Set for 2 Dons
With Karl Berger
- From Now On ESP 1966
- Tune in Milestone, 1968
With the Ed Blackwell Project
- What It Is?
- What It Be Like?
With Carla Bley
- Dinner Music (Watt, 1976)
With Don Cherry
With Paul Motian
With Don Pullen & The African-Brazilian Connection
- Kele Mou Bana (Blue Note, 1991)
- Ode to Life (Blue Note, 1993)
- Live...Again: Live at Montreux (Blue Note, 1993)
- Numatik Swing Band (JCOA, 1973)
With Abdullah Ibrahim
- African Marketplace (1980) as Dollar Brand
- Dollar Brand at Montreux (1980) as Dollar Brand
- Water from an Ancient Well (1985)
With Rashied Ali
- New Directions in Modern Music (1971)
- All Music
- Clifford Allen, "Carlos Ward: A Tough And Lyrical Journey", All About Jazz, September 22, 2007.