Dizzy Gillespie, when asked in a Downbeat magazine interview with Herb Nolan, "what trumpet players do you hear today whom you like," Dizzy's reply, "Charles Tolliver - I like him." CHARLES TOLLIVER, entirely self-taught, is a remarkable talent who has gained an outstanding reputation as a trumpetist, bandleader, composer, arranger, and educator. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1942, and his musical career began at the age of 8 when his beloved grandmother, Lela, presented him with his first instrument, a cornet, and the inspiration to learn.
After a few years of college majoring in pharmacy at Howard University, and formulating his trumpet style, Charles began his professional career with the saxophone giant Jackie McLean. Making his recording debut with McLean on Blue Note Records in 1964, Charles has since recorded and/or performed with such renowned artists as Roy Haynes, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Booker Ervin, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Oliver Nelson, Roy Ayers, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and Max Roach.
In 1968 Charles Tolliver was voted as the Downbeat Critic's Choice for the trumpet category. In 1969 he formed the quartet Music, Inc., which has become internationally respected for its innovative approach. Charles and his Music, Inc. has toured in North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan performing at festivals, concerts, and radio and television stations.
Charles Tolliver is a brilliant player, capable of handling any tempo or mood. He has perfected an extremely individual and distinctive sound that clearly sets him apart from other trumpet players today. Characterized by a strong sense of tradition, Tolliver's playing is noted for its brilliance, inventiveness, melodic warmth, and even its poignancy. His compositions are inventive and display masterful writing ability. It is no small wonder that Charles Tolliver has earned the reputation as one of "the" trumpeters in jazz.