Primary Instrument: Clarinet
Charlie Gabriel, known to friends and relatives as Charlie G was born in New Orleans, LA and hails from a musical family. His great grandfather, Narcesse Gabriel, who resided in New Orleans in 1856 was a bass player. Charlie's grandfather Martin Joseph, an accordion and cornet player had the National Jazz Band in New Orleans and hosted many jazz musicians. Martin Manuel Gabriel, father of Charles, was a clarinetist and drummer and worked with all of the jazz greats from New Orleans. Martin and his brothers Percy on bass and Clarence on jazz piano formed The Gabriel Brothers Dixie- Land Band.
Charles has played traditional style music with some of the top New Orleans musicians such as Kid Howard, Kid Sheik, Jim Robinson, George Lewis etc. Charlie came to Detroit at the age of fourteen. He was so experienced that he got into the Lionel Hampton outfit at age sixteen. Later, he played with the U.S. Army for two years.
In the early fifties, Charlie played with Harry Leib's Orchestra at the Michigan State Fair with: Dick Clark, Bobby Blue Bland, Connie Frances, Frankie Avalon, Brenda Lee and Bobby Parker, Jr. In 1956, he formed a band and traveled around the country as band leader. He traveled and performed nationwide until accepting the job as band director for Joe Simon in 1969. In the early seventies Charlie was a member of Aretha Franklin's Orchestra. He continued to play throughout the states and abroad. At this time he did free lance work with Nancy Wilson.
Charlie joined the J.C. Heard Jazz Quartet in 1975 and worked with him until 1983. The Quartet toured the U.S. working in lounges and hotels such as Dallas Hilton, New Orleans Hilton, Hyatt Regency, the Grand Hotel of Mackinac Island and a host of others. They also played at jazz festivals and educational institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Spoletto Jazz Festival. The Quartet toured Europe and worked at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Bern's, Switzerland.
During 1983, Charlie began playing in local Catholic Churches. He played for Liturgies, Revivals, Receptions, Bible School etc. He composed a Mass of St. Frances de Sales and arranged and performed Jazz Masses in the Detroit area and surrounding states. Charlie researched and developed music programs which he performed annually during Black History month.
Since 1984 Charlie has been working in and around Bourbon St. in New Orleans. He has performed at Arnold's Restaurant, the Fairmont Hotel, the World's Fair, Holland Point, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Commander Palace etc. Recently Charlie did a video taping for the stage production One Mo Time in Vienna, Austria. He did a command performance for the Prince in Monte Carlo, France and received award from hot Jazz club in Limuges, France. Charlie has workedwith many New Orleans Bands in Storyville.
Currently, Charlie performs with his band, the Gabriel Traditional Jazz Band, in the United States, Europe and Asia. He also performs regularly with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave presenting special tributes to Louis Armstrong, New Orleans, and Ray Charles. Be sure to put Jan. 26 on your calendar, because, as the MetroTimes promises, He conjures up a joyful spirit. You always have a good time with Charlie.