Teddy Charles: Dances With Bulls


Dances With Bulls


Teddy Charles (vibes)


Dances With Bulls (Smalls SRC00038)

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Teddy Charles (vibes), Chris Byars (alto sax, flute), John Mosca (trombone), Harold Danko (piano), Ari Roland (bass), Stefan Schatz (drums).

Composed by Teddy Charles


Recorded: New York, July 23, 2008


Rating: 84/100 (learn more)

From Emmett Hardy to Herbie Nichols to Monk before he became Monk—jazz has always had its share of geniuses who fell between the cracks. Teddy Charles is another. The vibist/composer's 1950s work with musicians such as Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, and Charles Mingus was avant-garde before the term became synonymous with free jazz; Charles was always more interested in finding novel harmonic and formal schemes than in freedom for freedom's sake. The album Dances With Bulls is his first studio recording in more than 40 years, but you'd never know it. He takes up right where he left off. The title track begins with a twitchy and scratchy, harmonically "out" duet improvised by Charles and pianist Harold Danko. This leads into an ebbing-and-flowing (and very dark) ostinato that undergirds the riff-ish melody and an episode of improvised, non-tonal polyphony. Charles plays with great fluidity and an off-kilter imagination. Danko is the rare jazz pianist who goes in and out with equal facility; trombonist John Mosca and alto saxophonist Chris Byars (whose band backs up Charles on the disc) display a flexible sense of time and space. The music lacks the freshness of Charles's '50s music. The rest of jazz has caught up with him. Still, this is a fine reintroduction to a old/new master.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey


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