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Denis Charles

Denis Charles was a jazz drummer.

Charles was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and first played bongos at age seven with local ensembles in the Virgin Islands. In 1945 he moved to New York, and gigged frequently around town. In 1954 he began working with Cecil Taylor, and the pair collaborated through 1958. Following this he played with Steve Lacy, Gil Evans, and Jimmy Giuffre. He befriended Ed Blackwell, and the two influenced each other.

He recorded with Sonny Rollins on a calypso-tinged set, and then returned to time with Lacy, with whom he played until 1964. He worked with Archie Shepp and Don Cherry in 1967 and then disappeared from the record until 1971. In the 1970s and 1980s he played regularly on the New York jazz scene with Frank Lowe, David Murray, Charles Tyler, Billy Bang, and others, and also played funk, rock, and traditional Caribbean music. He released three discs as a leader between 1989-1992, and died in New York City in 1998.

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