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Dennis Charles: King of the Deep

I’ve been hip to Dennis Charles since “introducing” him in The Jazz Review in 1961, as Cecil Taylor’s drummer. His recent departure is tragic, just as he was getting his life together, and his music, his delightfully spare, “old timey” traditional approach (put you in mind of Eddie Blackwell), he is taken.

King of the Deep suffers from an over-discursiveness and seeming randomness of non-thematic blowing. Jemeel Moodoc, an exciting player, is not enough given direction by leader Charles, who remains the beating heart of the set. Yet, behind Ayler-blunt melodies, straightahead timbre, the unique daring simplicity of Charles’ rhythmic motive force, Deep has lovely moments. Dennis’ solos, hip, self contained, quirky links and carriers of the whole. Check “We Don’t” and “Rob.”

Originally Published