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date: 22 November 2019

Shavers, Charlie [Charles James ]locked

  • John Chilton

Extract

[Charles James ]

(b New York, NY, Aug 3, 1917; d New York, NY, July 8, 1971). American jazz trumpeter and arranger. At the age of 19 he made a sensational impact on the New York jazz scene with his playing in the John Kirby Sextet (1937–44), for which he also provided many ingenious arrangements. For the next 11 years Shavers often worked in a big band led by Tommy Dorsey, where he was featured in spectacular arrangements that displayed both his jazz talents and his bravura approach; he also occasionally sang. He played in a wide variety of studio bands, but spent the last years of his life playing mainly in small groups, continuing to display an astonishing versatility. He was also a gifted pianist and banjo player.

Shavers was originally influenced by Roy Eldridge, but he soon developed a bold individualism that radiated confidence and good humor. He was a well schooled musician who displayed remarkable technical fluency and was able to harness this skill in his agile improvisations, which were particularly noteworthy for their wide dynamic range. He was one of the first jazz trumpeters to improvise long lines in the altissimo register with complete control; these high-note excursions did not diminish his flexibility or the warmth of his low notes. He wrote several deft jazz compositions, notably the enduring “Undecided,” popularized by Benny Goodman....

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Jazz Journal
Jazz Monthly
Jazz Journal International
Crescendo International
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2/2002)