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Take Five With Charlie Harrington

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Charlie Harrington: The consummate Charlie Harrington has been playing drums since the age of five and has played professionally since the age of 15.

He studied with Ray Bauduc for two years and later with Tim Tull and went on to finish First Place in the Slingerland/Louie Bellson National Drum Contest.

Additionally, Charlie is the recipient of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award. He has also taken master classes with Ed Soph, Louie Bellson, Donny Osborne, Joe Morello, and Ed Shaughnessy.

A child prodigy, Charlie has performed with Woody Herman, Freddie Green, Stan Mark, The Jazz Connection, The Cactus Rose Project, James Simmons, David Holcombe and Karen Wylie. His blues playing credits include sharing the stage with Joe "Guitar" Hughes and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

An inventive, highly skilled, and versatile performer, Charlie is comfortable in everything from trio and small group settings to big band ensembles. He's known for sophisticated rhythms, distinctive accompaniment, and powerful solos.

Instrument(s):

Drums.

Teachers and/or influences? My main teachers were Ray Bauduc and Tim Tull. I can't even begin to list all the people I've been influenced by and have checked out. I have many influences but the major ones are Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Joe Morello, Ed Shaughnessy, Butch Miles, and Peter Erskine.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I always wanted to be a musician. I was constantly tapping out rhythms on anything I could get my hands on when I was little. I'd sit mesmerized watching dance and variety shows and be in envy of the drummers playing on the shows. It was never an option to seriously consider anything else.

Your sound and approach to music: You need to listen to everyone you're playing with and play for the ensemble and not for yourself. It's not so much about what you play but what you don't play.

It's about the space between the notes. If you imagine yourself as an audience member listening to the music and then play what you'd like to hear as that audience member, you're on the right path. Technique and chops are great but they need to be applied musically and tastefully.

Your dream band:

That's a hard one but I'll give it a try. There are so many people I admire on their respective instruments but my choice for bass is Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. NHØP's phrasing, sound, and ability to swing was amazing.

Guitar is a tough one also but I'd have to give the nod to Anthony Wilson. This man is so versatile it's staggering.

On the piano I'll go with Count Basie. His ability to say so much by saying so little still blows me away. Thank God we have so many of his recordings to enjoy.

The first Jazz album I bought was: I can't recall the first album purchased but two of the early ones I do remember are:

Buddy Rich, Stick It;

Al Hirt, The Greatest Horn in the World.

CDs you are listening to now:

Bill Stewart, Think Before You Think (Blue Note);

Cindy Blackman, Works on Canvas (Lava Jazz);

Ray Brown, This is Ray Brown;

Maynard Ferguson, M.F. Horn, Vol. 1.

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