Charles Tolliver

A few weeks before the release of Connect, Charles Tolliver’s first new recording in 13 years, the trumpeter and composer is home in New York and feeling, like the rest of the world, the pangs of seclusion—of disconnect.

“It’s kind of surrealistic in a way because, as a practicing musician I normally enjoy hours and hours of isolation anyway, working on some music idea, so I’ve been given that and more by this pandemic in spades. But not being able to go hear one of my favorite musicians if they’re playing in town and rub shoulders, it’s getting to be pretty hairy, you know. As we all know, once the big venues shut down—the Broadways and the Piccadillys of the world, the operas and orchestras—that’s it. There’s a lot of virtual things going on, but it can never be the same because these art forms, including definitely ours, require close encounters.”

“We all love Duke Ellington, of course, and Dizzy Gillespie with Gil Fuller as his driving force. But for me, Thad Jones—that’s just about it … He’s like a god.”

New music from pre-lockdown days does help. Connect comprises four extended performances, all Tolliver originals, and constitutes a bold reminder of his skills as a soloist, composer, and arranger. The album features the trumpeter with two longtime colleagues— bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White—plus alto saxophonist Jesse Davis and new pianist Keith Brown (son of Donald Brown). British saxophonist Binker Golding guested on two tracks. Tolliver was on tour in Europe and recorded the album last November at RAK Studios in London for the Gearbox label.

This was Tolliver’s first Before & After, and was conducted online using

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