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The Charles McPherson Quintet

June 9 @ 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Screenshot 2024 06 05 At 3.16.29 PM

SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2024 • 5 PM & 7:30 PM

Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1939 and moved to Detroit at age nine. While growing up in Detroit, he studied with the renowned pianist Barry Harris and started playing jazz professionally at age 19. He then moved from Detroit to New York in 1959 in order to be in the heart of the jazz scene. McPherson soon joined bassist Charles Mingus’ band and performed with Mingus from 1960 to 1972. While performing with Mingus, he collaborated frequently with Harris, Lonnie Hillyer, and George Coleman.

McPherson has performed at concerts and festivals around the world with his own variety of groups, consisting of quartets, quintets and full orchestras. He has toured the US, Europe, Japan, Africa, and South America with his own group, as well as with jazz greats Barry Harris, Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, Nat Adderly, Jay McShann, Phil Woods, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Randy Brecker, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, and others.

Charles joined Wynton Marsalis and the J@LC Orchestra in 2019 in celebrating the altoist’s 80th birthday. The evening’s performance included new arrangements of seven of Charles iconic original compositions. That year he also performed at the NEA Jazz Masters performance during Stanley Crouch’s tribute. McPherson has recorded as a guest artist with Charlie Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. He has recorded as a leader on Prestige, Fantasy, Mainstream, Discovery, Xanadu, Arabesque, Capri and several smaller labels in Europe and Japan. Additionally, Charles was the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film Bird, a biopic about Charlie Parker.

McPherson has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Don Redman Lifetime Achievement Award and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from California State University San Marcos. Most recently Joplin proclaimed a “Charles McPherson Day” on February 19 in perpetuity. Widely recognized as a prolific composer, Charles is now Resident Composer for the San Diego Ballet, where he has written three original suites plus two arrangements for chamber music and jazz combos. His newest album on his own label is a compilation of two of multiple movement suites, “Sweet Synergy Suite” and “Song of Songs,” plus a movement from a string chamber work, “Reflection, Turmoil & Hope.”

Many critics from acclaimed publications, including DownBeat Magazine, recognized Jazz Dance Suites as one of the best Jazz Recordings of the year. It’s also won the honor of two International Reader’s Polls, both DownBeat and JAZZTIMES, as No. 1 & No. 4 Jazz Album of the year, plus McPherson was named Artist of the Year.

In 2019, Dr. Donnie Norton began compiling the entire book of McPherson’s compositions for publication. During the pandemic, McPherson was as busy as ever online participating in programs, concerts and festivals all over the world.

Stanley Crouch says of McPherson in The New York Times, “he is a singular voice who has never sacrificed the fluidity of his melody making and is held in high esteem by musicians both long seasoned and young.”

Wynton Marsalis, a longtime admirer, says: “Charles is the very definition of excellence in our music. He’s the definitive master on this instrument. He plays with exceptional harmonic accuracy and sophistication. He performs free-flowing, melodic and thematically developed solos with unbelievable fire and an unparalleled depth of soul.”


June 9
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center
7600 Fay Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037 United States
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The Conrad Prebys Foundation
(619) 860-2100
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