From a French jazz magazine, Spring 1998

It has now been about three weeks since the American drummer Denis Charles died in New York. His death ended the beautiful musical collaboration and human adventure with bass player Bernard Santacruz and saxophonist Frank Lowe. So the trio is going to go without him for a concert scheduled in Marseille, Anders Griffen the replacement on drums.

Denis Charles arrived in New York in 1945 where he began on percussion and then the drum set. He was part of the explosion of free jazz and met pianist Cecil Taylor (in 1956) for a first recording along with Steve Lacy and Buell Neidlinger. He worked with Jimmy Guiffre, Wilbur Ware, and Gil Evans. He played with Lacy, Grimes and Roswell Rudd on Monk compositions. He crossed paths with Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, and Don Cherry. After two family tragedies, he retired from the jazz scene in 1965. He came back to improvised music in 1978. Since then, he never stopped collaborating with notable European musicians like Didier Levallet, Daunik Lazro, Yves Robert and also Bernard Santacruz as well as, in the United States, Billy Bang, Bobby Few, Frank Lowe. ...

Little known to the general public, after his bright years in the galaxy of musical stars, Denis Charles is a great musician as witnessed by several recordings. It is a truly formidable person we lose ... and the loss of a unique drummer, spontaneous and complete, an inspired percussionist. He had a leonine drive, cutting commentaries, subtle and with an innate sense of musical space. We won't forget his laugh, his bonhommie and his love of playing at the time of his last tour through Marseille this past January ... with a great simplicity and a beautiful nobility. A lesson in humility, of greatness, wisdom, respect for all musicians and human beings.

 The CD "After the Demon's Leaving," recorded in 1996 with Bernard Santacruz and Frank Lowe, which came out this year, continues the work of Latitude 44, the group created by bassist Santacruz in 1995. Denis Charles and his fellow musicians in this group enjoyed a remarkable communication that came from the heart, where the mastery of sonorous densities and musical intentions permitted remarkable improvisational exchanges. A recording which has body and soul. The trio Santacruz/Lowe/Griffen played forcefully while thinking of Denis throughout the tour.

Translation: Laura Levin and Melanie MacLennan

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