Teddy Charles

Dances with Bulls

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos

Teddy Charles has been retired from jazz many more years than he had played, yet still remains one of the very best vibraphonists of all time. His decades as a sea captain off the Atlantic Ocean have never diminished his abilities as a creative performer when he wishes to display them. This is his first studio date in about four decades, showcasing his fertile imagination to revise and envision new ways to modify standards. He's also bringing back old personal favorites, and does them all with the excited wonder of a much younger musician. Longtime bandmate and criminally underrated Harold Danko is back with Charles on piano, complemented by saxophonist and flutist Chris Byars and his rhythm section, including veteran trombonist John Mosca. The organic feeling this group creates is undeniable, while Charles himself does not dominate the activity. He blends in quite nicely with the others, clear and present during "No More Nights" as Byars and Mosca join hands while the vibist comps during a piece based on the changes of "There Will Never Be Another You." An adaptation, or more accurately re-harmonization of "What Is This Thing Called Love?" -- titled "Bunni" -- has definite inflections of the music made by Charles Mingus in its modal calypso bass and piano led character. Always a favorite of Charles, the Mingus evergreen "Nostalgia in Times Square" enjoys a reprieve from his lively 1988 Soul Note recording Live at the Verona Jazz Festival (another 25 years past his far most previous album) but is taken at a much slower tempo. "All The Things You Are" is morphed into an exotic title for "Arlene" with the vibrato flute of Byars, while the out-and-out bopper "Blues Without Woe" is excavated from an very old recording Charles did with Thad Jones and Frank Wess, with Byars again on flute alongside Mosca in a straight and chased tempo. The opener "Dances with Bulls" is a spacious, slow discourse in 4/4 that is atypical from the rest, occupying a very dark labyrinth, weaving in and out of consciousness via noticeable tones cultivated by Mal Waldron. Everyone on the date sounds professional, practiced, and focused, where Charles himself is cool, reserved, and professes the less-is-more concept beautifully while picking and choosing select moments to tear it up. Danko is outstanding throughout and proves how he completely understands the style of Charles. This is a very fine effort, and a live in-concert follow-up with this band would be even more welcome and satisfying -- but please don't wait for another decade.

blue highlight denotes track pick