It was August of 1981 and I had just moved from Wisconsin to Wayne, N.J. to go to school at (then) William Paterson College. My brother (trumpeter Eddie Allen) and I had been hearing about this band that played every week in the village of New York City called “The Superband.” After a short while we finally had a chance to hear them, and of course the leader of this band was Mr. Charli Persip. He was one of the first drummers that I heard in NYC that I had been listening to on records. Man, he had such command of the band and the music that it frightened and thrilled me at the same time. I remember introducing myself to him and he was very nice and, from that point on, very supportive. Shortly after that my brother joined the band, so I got a chance to see and hang with him quite a bit during my early years in the New York area.
Charli had a way of playing the ride cymbal and comping behind the musicians that let you know he owned the music when he played. He was all in all the time. Some of my favorite recordings with him would be Diz and Getz (with Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz), Dizzy Gillespie at Newport, Harry “Sweets” Edison’s The Swinger, and the Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland recordings, as well as recordings with Benny Golson, Jerome Richardson, Art Farmer, Hank Mobley, and many others.
Charli Persip was a consummate leader and he exemplified how to lead a band from the drums, which is something that I am still trying to figure out.
Thank you, Mr. Persip.