Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri and moved to Detroit at age nine. After growing up in Detroit, he studied with the renowned pianist Barry Harris and started playing jazz professionally at age 19. He moved from Detroit to New York in 1959 and performed with Charles Mingus from 1960 to 1972. While performing with Mingus, he collaborated frequently with Harris, Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet), and George Coleman (tenor sax). McPherson has performed at concerts and festivals with his own orchestra.
McPherson was recently featured at Lincoln Center showcasing his original compositions and arrangements with a seven piece ensemble. He has toured the US, Europe, Japan, Africa and South America with his own group, as well as with jazz greats Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, Nat Adderly, Jay McShann and others. McPherson has recorded as guest artist with Charlie Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. He has recorded as leader on Prestige, Fantasy, Mainstream, Discovery, Xanadu, and most recently Arabesque. His most recent recording is the highly acclaimed Manhattan Nocturne.
Charles was also the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film Bird, a biography about Charlie Parker.
McPherson remains a strong, viable force on the jazz scene today. He is at the height of his powers. His playing combines passionate feeling with intricate patterns of improvisation. Throughout his four decades of being an integral performer of the music, Charles has not merely remained true to his BOP origins, but has expanded on them.