The Boston-based Charlie Kohlhase is an intelligent alto and baritone saxophonist, and an inventive composer with a heady, somewhat sardonic sense of humor. Kohlhase maintains a quintet with personnel that has remained fairly stable throughout its existence. Since its inception in 1989, the group has had only a single change, allowing Kohlhase a consistent outlet for compositional growth and experimentation. Kohlhase's hallmark is an active imagination and a scrupulous attention to detail; his tunes are exceedingly well-crafted and the band brings them to life with fire and conviction.
Kohlhase started playing saxophone at the age of 18. Though he is mostly self-taught, both as a player and composer, Kohlhase studied at various times with Roswell Rudd, Tom Bergeron, and Stan Strickland. He moved to Boston from Portsmouth, NH, in 1980; he has led his own groups in Boston since 1982. In 1987, he formed the Charlie Kohlhase Quintet with Matt Langley on saxes, Curtis Hasselbring on trombone, John Turner on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums; trumpeter John Carlson replaced Hasselbring in 1992. The quintet toured the Midwest several times in the '90s. Kohlhase has also been associated with the Either/Orchestra since 1987, and has recorded as a sideman with the Mandala Octet and guitarist Mitch Seidman.