Charles Earland Biography

24 May 1941, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 11 December 1999, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Earland began his musical career, playing saxophone, while still at school. First on alto and then tenor, he played with a number of bands and soon after graduation joined the small band led by organist Jimmy McGriff. Later, he formed a band of his own using the currently popular organ/saxophone/rhythm section format. Intent on pursuing this concept but experiencing problems with organists, he began playing the organ himself. He was hired as organist for a band led by Lou Donaldson before he resumed as a leader. Throughout the 70s, Earland’s group was in great demand and he proved popular both in live performances, in clubs and at festivals, and also as a recording artist. His first album for Prestige Records, 1969’s Black Talk!, has proved to have an enduring appeal for aficionados of the soul jazz genre. Earland recorded extensively for Prestige and Muse, before releasing albums for Columbia Records and Mercury Records. He experimented with disco in collaboration with his wife, singer-songwriter Sheryl Kendrick, but her death from sickle-cell anaemia in 1985 resulted in Earland’s retreat from the music scene. He returned in the late 80s with two traditional soul jazz albums for Milestone Records. In the 90s he could be heard playing not only in an updated hard bop mode but also in an earthy heavily riff-laden manner, his solidly traditional B3 sound helping him retain much of his earlier popularity. A 1995 album featured the powerhouse modern trumpet playing of Lew Soloff, contrasting vividly with the album’s musical leaning towards R&B, and was well received by audiences geared to contemporary sounds. He recorded two superb albums with Irene Reid shortly before his death from heart failure in December 1999.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.