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Musician

Charles Earland

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Charles Earland came into his own at the tail end of the great 1960s wave of soul-jazz organists, gaining a large following and much airplay with a series of albums for the the Prestige label. While heavily indebted to Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, Earland came armed with his own swinging, technically agile, light-textured sound on the keyboard and one of the best walking-bass pedal techniques in the business. Though not an innovative player in his field, Earland burned with the best of them when he was on. Earland actually started his musical experiences surreptitiously on his father's alto sax as a kid, and when he was in high school, he played baritone in a band that also featured fellow Philadelphians Pat Martino on guitar, Lew Tabackin on tenor, and yes, Frankie Avalon on trumpet. After playing in the Temple University band, he toured as a tenor player with McGriff for three years, became infatuated with McGriff's organ playing, and started learning the Hammond B-3 at intermission breaks. When McGriff let him go, Earland switched to the organ permanently, forming a trio with Martino and drummer Bobby Durham. He made his first recordings for Choice in 1966, then joined Lou Donaldson for two years (1968-69) and two albums before being signed as a solo artist to Prestige. Earland's first album for Prestige, 'Black Talk!', became a best-selling classic of the soul-jazz genre; a surprisingly effective cover of the Spiral Starecase's pop / rock hit 'More Today Than Yesterday' from that LP received saturation airplay on jazz radio in 1969. He recorded eight more albums for Prestige, one of which featured a young unknown Philadelphian named Grover Washington, Jr, then switched to Muse before landing contracts with Mercury and Columbia. By this time, the organ trio genre had gone into eclipse, and in the spirit of the times, Earland acquired some synthesizers and converted to pop/disco in collaboration with his wife, singer / songwriter Sheryl Kendrick. There followed a succession of successful jazz / soul / funk albums including 'Odyssey' in 1976, featuring 'Intergalactic Love Song', 'The Great Pyramid', featuring 'Driftin' and perhaps his best remembered album from this period 'Revelation', featuring the Randy Muller (Brass Construction) produced 'Let The Music Play'. He moved into the Eighties with 'Coming To You Live' featuring 'The Woman In You' and the title track. There were further CBS outings with 'Street Themes' and 'Earland's Jam'. In 1983 he released an odd twelve inch single entitled 'It's A Doggie Boogie, Baby', popular on the UK dancefloors. Sheryl Kendrick's death from sickle-cell anaemia in 1985 left Earland desolate, and he stopped playing for a while, but a gig at the Chickrick House on Chicago's South Side in the late '80's brought him out of his grief and back to the Hammond B-3. Two excellent albums in the old soul-jazz groove for Milestone followed, and the '90's found him returning to the Muse label. Earland died of heart failure on December 11th, 1999, the morning after playing a gig in Kansas City, he was 58.

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News: Recording

Charles Earland: Front Burner

Charles Earland: Front Burner

Many fans of organist Charles Earland favor his late 1960s and early '70s recordings, such as Black Talk!, Black Drops and Living Black! And rightfully so, since Earland's leadership albums from this period burnished his “Mighty Burner" moniker. But don't neglect his later period. Case in point, Front Burner. Recorded in June 1988 for Milestone and ...

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Article: Radio

Sir Stevie: Jammin' on Stevie Wonder - Part 1

Read "Sir Stevie: Jammin' on Stevie Wonder - Part 1" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu


Stevie Wonder has more entries in the Real Book than any other pop musician, The Beatles included. It is not surprising therefore that his Songbook has been mined by hundreds of jazz musicians, including the likes of Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon or Herbie Hancock. To mark the 70th birthday of ...

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Article: Album Review

Tony Adamo: Was Out Jazz Zone Mad

Read "Was Out Jazz Zone Mad" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki


Some African cultures preserved their history not by the written but by the spoken word, kept by oral cultural historians known as griots. On Was Out Jazz Zone Mad, vocalist Tony Adamo aspires to serve in this same role, as a verbal historian of both official and unofficial African-American jazz and blues culture. This type of ...

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Article: From the Inside Out

One Day in Brazil, 50 Years in Germany

Read "One Day in Brazil, 50 Years in Germany" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki


Tony Adamo Was Out Jazz Zone Mad Ropeadope 2018 Some African cultures preserved their history not by the written but by the spoken word, kept by oral cultural historians known as griots. On Was Out Jazz Zone Mad, vocalist Tony Adamo aspires to serve in this same role, ...

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Article: Radio

Blue Note 50th Anniversaries: November 1968 & More

Read "Blue Note 50th Anniversaries: November 1968 & More" reviewed by Marc Cohn


We celebrate the 50th anniversary of Blue Note sessions recorded in November, 1968 from Lou Donaldson (with Charles Earland, Blue Mitchell, Jimmy Ponder and Idris Muhammad), Bobby Hutcherson (with Stanley Cowell and Harold Land) and McCoy Tyner. Bien sur, there's more, including 78 rpm recordings of The Port Of Harlem Jazz Men from 1939--the ...

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Article: Live Review

Bob DeVos Quartet At Trumpets Jazz Club

Read "Bob DeVos Quartet At Trumpets Jazz Club" reviewed by David A. Orthmann


Bob DeVos Quartet Trumpets Jazz Club Montclair, NJ January 26, 2018 We live in a time when some of the septuagenarian jazz survivors, with roots in the music's venerated years, are taking a well-deserved victory lap. They've earned the right to expect audiences to pay to hear them ...

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Article: Album Review

Akiko Tsuruga: So Cute, So Bad

Read "So Cute, So Bad" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky


On more than one occasion I've sat back while listening to jazz organ giants of yore and thought to myself, “they don't make 'em like this anymore." And while it's true that one-of-a-kind greats like Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, Big John Patton, Brother Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, and Jimmy McGriff are gone for good, and nobody ...

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Article: Album Review

Melvin Sparks: Live at Nectar’s

Read "Live at Nectar’s" reviewed by Joe Gatto


A cool thing about music is that when you follow a band for a long time, you eventually get turned on to the music that influenced them. You get to hear all kinds of exciting new music, and start digging deep, going down groovy rabbit holes to discover great musicians you might not find on your ...

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News: Video / DVD

Keyboard Event: 1981

Keyboard Event: 1981

On January 20, 1981, a keyboard concert was held at New York's Carnegie Hall featuring Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Eubie Blake, Buddy Williams, Sir Roland Hanna, Kenny Barron, Bobby Hutcherson, Hubert Laws, Stanley Clarke, Arthur Blythe, George Duke, Bob James, Charles Earland and Rodney Franklin. The following video features the entire One Night Stand: A Keyboard ...


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