Teddy Charles

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Teddy Charles
Teddy Charles.JPG
Background information
Birth name Theodore Charles Cohen
Born (1928-04-13)April 13, 1928
Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts
Died April 16, 2012(2012-04-16) (aged 84)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Composer, Session musician, boat captain
Instruments vibraphone, piano, percussion

Teddy Charles (April 13, 1928 – April 16, 2012) was an influential American jazz musician and composer whose instruments were the vibraphone, piano, and drums.[1]

Born Theodore Charles Cohen in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, he studied at the Juilliard School of Music as a percussionist. Later he began to record and made personal appearances as Teddy Cohen with bands[2] as a vibraphonist, writing, arranging and producing records, in 1951 changing his last name to Charles.

Charles was one of many jazz musicians who hung out at an apartment building at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York City known as the Jazz Loft rented by photographer and artist David X. Young, who in turn sublet two apartments to Hall Overton (Charles's mentor) and Dick Cary. Known as an innovator, Charles's main work was recorded in the 1950s, creating some highly influential and sought-after futuristic, polytonal recordings such as "New Directions", "Collaboration: West", "Word from Bird" and "The Teddy Charles Tentet". Charles also did session work with musicians and singers as varied as Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Shelly Manne and Dion. He was also a co-leader of the highly praised studio group, the Prestige Jazz Quartet. He recorded an album, Live at the Verona Jazz Festival, for the Italian Soul Note label in 1988.

Charles was the captain of the skipjack Pilgrim out of Greenport, New York (on the North Fork of Long Island), and performed music locally. In his last years, Charles began performing again after spending some years at sea. Charles last recording was the 2011 collaboration/recording with Wily Bo Walker and Danny Flam featuring the song "You Don't Know What Love Is".

Charles died in 2012, just three days after his 84th birthday.[3]


As leader[edit]

  • New Directions (Prestige, 1953)
  • Collaboration West (Prestige, 1953)
  • Evolution (Prestige, 1953–55)
  • The Teddy Charles Tentet (Atlantic, 1956)
  • Word from Bird (Atlantic, 1956)
  • Vibe-Rant (Elektra, 1957)
  • Coolin' (New Jazz, 1957) with the Prestige All Stars
  • 3 for Duke (Jubilee, 1957)
  • The Prestige Jazz Quartet (Prestige, 1957)
  • Salute to Hamp (Bethlehem, 1959)
  • Something New, Something Blue (Columbia, 1959) - with Bill Russo
  • On Campus - Ivy League Jazz Concert (Bethlehem, 1960)
  • Jazz in the Garden at the Museum of Modern Art (Warwick, 1960)
  • Russia Goes Jazz (United Artists, 1963)
  • Live at the Verona Jazz Festival (Soul Note, 1988)
  • Dances with Bulls (Smalls, 2008)
  • Teddy Charles and the Walter Wolff Trio Live (OAP, 2008) - with Walter Wolff

As sideman[edit]

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Miles Davis

With Thad Jones

  • Olio (Prestige, 1957)

With Eric Kloss

With Teo Macero

  • Teo - with the Prestige Jazz Quartet (Prestige, 1957)

With the Metronome All-Stars


  1. ^ Allmusic biography
  2. ^ Teddy Charles | View the Music Artists Biography Online | VH1.com
  3. ^ Kelly, Tim (17 April 2012). "Jazz great Teddy Charles dead at 84". suffolktimes.timesreview.com. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 

External links[edit]