Charles Tyler (musician)

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Charles Tyler
Birth name Charles Lacy Tyler
Born (1941-07-20)July 20, 1941
Cadiz, Kentucky, US
Died June 27, 1992(1992-06-27) (aged 50)
Toulon, France
Genres Jazz, free jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Baritone sax, alto sax
Associated acts

Albert Ayler

Sun Ra

Charles Lacy Tyler (July 20, 1941 – June 27, 1992) was an American jazz baritone saxophonist. He also played alto saxophone and clarinet.


Tyler was born in Cadiz, Kentucky, and spent his childhood years in Indianapolis. He played piano as a child and clarinet at 7, before switching to alto in his early teens, and finally baritone saxophone. During the summers, he visited Chicago, New York City and Cleveland, Ohio, where he met the young tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler at age 14. After a stint in the army from 1957–1959, Tyler relocated to Cleveland in 1960 and began playing with Ayler, conmuting between New York and Cleveland.[1] During that period he got to jam with Ornette Coleman and Sunny Murray.[2] In 1965 he recorded with Ayler's group Bells and Spirits Rejoice.[3]

Albert Ayler (1965)[edit]

Charles Tyler had known Albert Ayler from his teenage years, and in 1965, he met up with him and joined his band for the rest of the year. Tyler could be heard Ayler's on "Bells" and "Spirits Rejoice". He also appeared in a Town Hall concert with Albert Ayler, Donald Ayler, Sunny Murray, and Gary Peacock. He later left the band in 1966 to record as a leader.

As A Leader[edit]

Tyler recorded his first album as leader in 1966 for ESP-Disk. He returned to Indianapolis to study with David Baker at Indiana University between 1967 and 1968, recording a second album for ESP, Eastern Man Alone.[4] In 1968, Tyler transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, to study and teach. In Los Angeles, Tyler worked with Arthur Blythe, Bobby Bradford, and David Murray.[3]

He moved back to New York in 1974, leading his own freebop groups with Blythe, trumpeter Earl Cross, drummer Steve Reid and others, recording the album Voyage from Jericho on Tyler's own Akba label.[1] In 1975, Tyler enrolled at Columbia University, and he made an extensive tour of Scandinavia releasing his second Akba album Live in Europe. In 1976, he performed the piece Saga of the Outlaws at Sam Rivers' Studio Rivbea, released two years later on Nessa Records.[2] During that period he played as a sideman or co-leader with Steve Reid, Cecil Taylor and Billy Bang.[5]

In 1982, during a European tour with Sun Ra's Orchestra, he relocated to Denmark, and in 1985 he moved to France, recording with other expatriates like Khan Jamal in Copenhagen and Steve Lacy in Paris.[5]


Tyler died in Toulon, France of heart failure in June 1992.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Albert Ayler

With Billy Bang

  • Rainbow Gladiator (Soul Note, 1981)
  • Invitation (Soul Note, 1982)
  • Live at Green Space (Anima, 1982)
  • Outline No. 12 (Celluloid, 1982)

With Wilber Morris

  • Collective Improvisations (Bleu Regard, 1981)

With Hal Russell

With Khan Jamal

  • Dark Warrior (Steeplechase, 1984)

With Steve Lacy


  1. ^ a b Lest We Forget: Charles Tyler (1941–1992) by Clifford Allen
  2. ^ a b Saga of the Outlaws Original Liner Notes by Michael Cuscuna
  3. ^ a b Allmusic Biography
  4. ^ Wilmer, Val (1977). As Serious As Your Life. Quartet. p. 282. ISBN 0-7043-3164-0. 
  5. ^ a b Live at Sweet Basil Original Liner Notes