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. Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1942, 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, Hank Mobley, Willie Bobo, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Booker Ervin, Gary Bartz, Herbie Hancock, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Oliver Nelson, Andrew Hill, Louis Hayes, Roy Ayers, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, and Max Roach.
Charles Tolliver has been a recipient of 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 trumpet quartet approach. Charles and his Music Inc, has toured in North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan performing at festivals, concerts, radio and television stations