Remembering Teddy Charles: Composer, Vibraphonist, Sailboat Captain

This album cover represents some of the greatest work of one Teddy Charles. As a vibraphone player, composer, arranger and record producer based in New York City (and briefly Los Angeles), he had opportunities to work with the greats of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s: Charles Mingus, Mal Waldron, Miles Davis and many others. These talents and opportunities coincided with the January 1956 recording sessions most famously released as The Teddy Charles Tentet, on Atlantic Records.

Charles died after a storied life in and out of music. He was as much Teddy Charles, jazz pioneer, as Captain Ted Charles, operator of commercial charter sailboats. He left music in the early 1960s to run boats in the Caribbean, and even when he returned to the New York region, he continued to own and operate charter vessels alongside his musical activities. In recent years, collaborations with saxophonist Chris Byars brought about a small resurgence of interest in Charles’ music, including a studio album (2009’s Dances With Bulls) and increased performance opportunities — including with a 10-piece ensemble. Continue reading