"Let Us Now Praise Charlie Shavers"


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By Steve Provizer

Charlie Shavers. Why is this man's work not better known? The only other swing trumpet players who could give him a run for his money in all facets of playing were Roy Eldridge and Buck Clayton. If you happened to like the particularities of their sounds, you might rate Harry Edison, Harry James, Cootie Williams or Red Allen as highly. The guy who most followed in his sonic footsteps was Clark Terry, although I have no idea if they knew each other well.

I first heard him many years ago on Lady Day's Verve LP “Solitude"- my favorite Lady Day record. Charlie's playing, both open and muted, was beautiful. I don't know why I didn't pursue his discography at that point; it just kind of spun out over time and I have grown to increasingly dig Shaver's facility, creativity and tone.

There's a surprising dearth of info out there about the man. For example, I've seen no references to Charlie's narcolepsy except in this interview with Bobby Shew. In any case, the chronology of his career is out there for you to explore. This posting is just to give a taste.

This is the Charlie Shavers Quintet in 1947 doing “Dizzy's Dilemna."

Here's Charlie and Lady Day, 1952, on “Moonglow."

Here he is in 1952 with Eldridge in one of the classic JATP “battles.

One of the few clips of Charlie has him here in another fantastic “battle" with Buck Clayton:

Here he is holding down the solo and first chair at the same time for the Dorseys:

Here he is with his first major gig-John Kirby. Sid Catlett is fantastic:

And finally, here he is not long before his death. Dig the violinist Svend Asmussen. You might also recognize the bassist and the tenor player:

Looking forward to hearing some Shavers-iana.

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