Charles Tolliver

Charles Tolliver (born March 6, 1942) is an American jazz trumpeter and composer whose landmark Strata-East quartet recordings added to the improvisational and compositional language of trumpet quartet jazz.

Charles Tolliver
Charles Tolliver at The Town Hall in 2009
Background information
Born (1942-03-06) March 6, 1942
Jacksonville, Florida, US
OriginNew York City
Years active1960s–present


Tolliver was born in Jacksonville, Florida, where, as a child, he received the gift of a cornet from his grandmother. He attended Howard University in the early 1960s as a pharmacy major, when he decided to pursue music as a career and return home to New York City. He came to prominence in 1964, playing and recording on Jackie McLean's Blue Note albums. Since then he has become one of the all time preeminent trumpeters in Jazz as well as one of its most gifted composer/arranger bandleaders. In 1971, Tolliver and Stanley Cowell founded Strata-East Records, one of the pioneer artist-owned jazz record labels. Tolliver himself released many albums and collaborations on Strata-East.[1] Following a long hiatus, he reemerged in the late 2000s, releasing two albums arranged for big band, "With Love" and "Emperor March". With Love was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble.[2]

He would later describe his experience: "There was so much going on with the music. Like with bebop, we had a long period of just salivating on. There were all these different idioms within a genre, the avant-garde and free music, bebop still, and of course the music of John Coltrane and Miles. It was just a hell of a period. And then there was also the political scene going on...."[3]


As leader

As a sideman

With Roy Ayers

With Gary Bartz

With Booker Ervin

With Louis Hayes

With Andrew Hill

With Jackie McLean

With Oliver Nelson

With Max Roach

With Horace Silver

With McCoy Tyner

With Gerald Wilson


  1. Allmusic biography
  2. With Love review
  3. Interview, Laurence Donohue-Greene, All About Jazz Online.
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