NPR logo Tolliver's Big Band Fires on 'All Cylinders'


Tolliver's Big Band Fires on 'All Cylinders'

Charles Tolliver in Concert on JazzSet 9/07

Audio is no longer available

Charles Tolliver in Concert on JazzSet 9/07

Audio is no longer available

Set List

  • "Ruthie's Heart"
  • "Right Now"
  • "On the Nile"
  • "Grand Max"
  • "Suspicion"
  • "Round Midnight" (Monk, Williams arr. Tolliver)


  • Charles Tolliver: leader and trumpet
  • Saxophones
  • Todd Bashore, Craig Handy, Howard Johnson, Bill Saxon, Bruce Williams
  • Trumpets
  • Chris Albert, Eddie Allen, Mack Golahon, Keyon Harold
  • Trombones
  • Joe Fielder, Stafford Hunter, Jason Jackson, Aaron Johnson
  • Anthony Wonsey: piano
  • Jansen Cinco: bass
  • Gregory Hutchinson: drums

Charles Tolliver. Jimmy Katz hide caption

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Jimmy Katz

When trumpeter Charles Tolliver talks about his high-octane big band, he uses phrases like, "The key is in the ignition; we're ready to go!" It's a perfect connection to the theme behind the Detroit International Jazz Festival: "Music on All Cylinders."

Tolliver's career reads like a who's-who of the jazz world. Saxophonist Jackie McLean used Tolliver's "Right Now" on the 1965 album of the same name. And in the late '60s, Tolliver played alongside two all-time jazz greats, Horace Silver and Max Roach.

In 1970, Tolliver and pianist Stanley Cowell started their own label, Strata-East, and proved that "you could actually do something which was really professional without having to go through all that artist-under-contract stuff," Tolliver says. "It mushroomed to the point where we had about 50 LPs."

A few years ago, when a young trumpeter named David Weiss asked Tolliver about his big-band music from the Strata-East era, he answered, "It's collecting dust." So they shook off that dust with two Charles Tolliver Big Band nights at the Jazz Standard in New York — and cut the Grammy-nominated album With Love.

Originally recorded at the Detroit International Jazz Festival on Labor Day Weekend, 2007.


Thanks to the festival's executive and artistic director, Terri Pontremoli, for making outdoor music happen in Detroit. Recording engineer is Timothy Powell of Metro Mobile in Chicago.

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