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Charlie Rouse

Charlie Rouse

Tenor Saxophone
April 6, 1924 -- November 30, 1988

Charlie Rouse



"A communicator rather than a pioneer, he must have found it strange and galling to be pushed out of view with the rest of the 'avant-garde.' On the strength of [his solo albums], Charlie Rouse was 'in the tradition,' centrally and majestically."

--Richard Cook & Brian Morton


Charlie Rouse studied clarinet before taking up tenor saxophone. He played in the bop big bands of Billy Eckstine (1944) and Dizzy Gillespie (1945), but made his first recordings as a soloist only in 1947, with Tadd Dameron and Fats Navarro.

After playing rhythm-and-blues in Washington and New York, he was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra (1949-50) and Count Basie's octet (1950). He took part in Clifford Brown's first recordings in 1953, then worked with Bennie Green (1955) and played in Oscar Pettiford's sextet (1955); with Julius Watkins, also one of Pettiford's sidemen, he led Les Modes (later the Jazz Modes), a bop quintet (1956-59). He joined Buddy Rich briefly before playing in Thelonious Monk's quartet (1959-1970), the association for which he is best known.

During the 1970s he worked as a freelance, and recorded three albums as a leader. In the early 1980s he was a member and joint leader of the quartet Sphere, which was dedicated to the performance of Monk's music. He performed in Wynton Marsalis's group at the Concord Jazz Festival (California) in 1987 and the following year recorded compositions by Monk in San Francisco with Carmen McRae.

In the 1960s Rouse adapted his style to Monk's work, improvising with greater deliberation than most bop tenor saxophonists, and restating melodies often. His distinctive solo playing with Monk may be heard on "Shuffle Boil" (1964), in which he alternates reiterations of the principal thematic motif with formulaic bop runs.

--BARRY KERNFELD, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz


A selected discography of Charlie Rouse albums.




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