Teddy Charles

Teddy Charles (April 13, 1928 – April 16, 2012) was an American jazz musician and composer whose instruments were the vibraphone, piano, and drums.[1]

Teddy Charles
Background information
Birth nameTheodore Charles Cohen
Born(1928-04-13)April 13, 1928
Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedApril 16, 2012(2012-04-16) (aged 84)
Riverhead, New York
InstrumentsVibraphone, piano, drums
LabelsPrestige, Atlantic, Jubilee, Bethlehem, Columbia, Warwick, Soul Note, Smalls
Associated actsThe Prestige Jazz Quartet

Born Theodore Charles Cohen in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, he studied at the Juilliard School of Music as a percussionist. Later he began to record and made personal appearances as Teddy Cohen with bands[2] as a vibraphonist, writing, arranging, and producing records. In 1951 he changed his last name to Charles.

Charles was one of many jazz musicians who hung out at an apartment building at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York City known as the Jazz Loft rented by photographer and artist David X. Young, who in turn sublet two apartments to Hall Overton (Charles's mentor) and Dick Cary.

Known as an innovator, Charles's main work was recorded in the 1950s, with polytonal albums such as New Directions, Collaboration: West, Word from Bird, and The Teddy Charles Tentet. He was a studio musician for Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Shelly Manne, and Dion. He was also a co-leader of the Prestige Jazz Quartet. He recorded an album, Live at the Verona Jazz Festival, for Soul Note in 1988.

Charles was captain of the 1906 wooden schooner Mary E he purchased in 1973 and restored, and later captained the boat Pilgrim out of Greenport, New York (on the North Fork of Long Island) and performed music locally. In his last years, he began performing again after spending some years at sea. His last recording was the 2011 collaboration with Wily Bo Walker and Danny Flam featuring the song "You Don't Know What Love Is".

He died in 2012.[3]


As leader

As sideman

With Buddy de Franco

  • Classics in Jazz [4] (Capitol 1949)

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Miles Davis

With Thad Jones

  • Olio (Prestige, 1957)

With Eric Kloss

With Teo Macero

  • Teo - with the Prestige Jazz Quartet (Prestige, 1957)

With the Metronome All-Stars


  1. Allmusic biography
  2. Teddy Charles | View the Music Artists Biography Online | VH1.com
  3. Kelly, Tim (17 April 2012). "Jazz great Teddy Charles dead at 84". suffolktimes.timesreview.com. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
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