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Charles Earland
Charles Earland
December 11, 1999
Age 58
 
Heart Attack 
 
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OBITUARY 
       
 
      
  Progressive Soul-Jazz Organist Charles Earland Dies At 58

                                        Charles Earland, who made his mark 
                                        among the soul-jazz organists in the 
                                        1960s and modified his sound to 
                                        embrace the funk-jazz 1970s, died of 
                                        a heart attack Saturday (Dec. 11) 
                                        after a performance in Kansas City, 
                                        Mo. He was 58.  

                     Earland started his musical career as a saxophonist, but  
                     switched to organ in the 1960s and later recorded a 
                     series of successful albums on the Prestige, Mercury and 
                     Muse labels. When the Hammond B-3 sound with which he 
                     was associated began to sound too dated, Earland made the 
                     canny decision to augment his sound with synthesizers and a 
                     heavier funk beat.  

                     Said organist Jimmy McGriff, with whom Earland first became 
                     interested in playing jazz organ, "Charlie was the kind of guy, 
                     if you showed him something today, tomorrow he'd be 
                     playing it just like you'd play it. He was a good player and a 
                     very good musician. He was one of the guys, like 'Groove' 
                     Holmes -- if you'd listen to him, he'd have you tapping your 
                     foot."  

                     Said guitarist Pat Martino, who knew Earland since high 
                     school, "Charles, he was one of the most compassionate 
                     people who's been in the business. His playing is just superb. 
                     As a person, he was just a wonderful human being."  

                     Charles Earland was born in Philadelphia, May 24, 1941, and 
                     took up the alto saxophone in high school -- with 
                     fame-bound classmates Martino, Bobby Timmons and Lew 
                     Tabackin. After attending Temple University, Earland joined 
                     up as a saxophonist with McGriff's band, but became 
                     enamored of the Hammond B-3 sound and would experiment 
                     with the organ during intermissions. By 1963, Earland was 
                     leading his own band as an organist. He joined saxophonist 
                     Lou Donaldson in 1968, and played a crucial role in some of 
                     Donaldson's highly respected Blue Note Records releases. 
                     Earland also played with such soul-jazz artists as Joe 
                     "Boogaloo" Jones, Rusty Bryant and Willis "Gator" Jackson.  

                     Earland's first solo album was the 1969 Soul Crib on Choice 
                     Records, which led to a contract with Prestige Records. On 
                     his Prestige releases he was accompanied by such noted 
                     artists as Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, 
                     Hubert Laws, Houston Person, Billy Harper and Jon Faddis. 
                     His repertoire of original compositions and jazz standards was 
                     often augmented by his own adaptations of soul and pop hits 
                     like "Aquarius," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," "Will You 
                     Still Love Me Tomorrow?," "More Today Than Yesterday," and 
                     "We've Only Just Begun."  

                     Earland's career reached a new plateau with his 1973 
                     recording space-funk album Leaving This Planet, which 
                     offered a psychedelic-soul style that was also followed by 
                     such '70s organists as Lonnie Liston Smith. As an 
                     enthusiastic convert to the jazz-rock fusion movement of 
                     the era, Earland kept musical company with some of its 
                     young lions: Grover Washington, Jr., John Abercrombie, Eric 
                     Gale, Billy Cobham, Michal Urbaniak, Patrick Gleeson, and 
                     Norman Connors. Earland also recorded the soundtrack to 
                     1974 martial arts film Dynamite Brothers and contributed to 
                     the score of Ralph Bakshi's 1972 R.Crumb-based cartoon 
                     Fritz The Cat 

                     In the 1980s, Earland ventured further into electronic 
                     pop-soul in recordings with his wife, vocalist/songwriter 
                     Sheryl Kendrick. When Kendrick died of sickle-cell anemia in 
                     1985, Earland dropped out of music. He was coaxed back 
                     onto the scene in 1988 and resumed his career with a series 
                     of albums for Milestone, Muse and Cannonball Records.  

                     Charles Earland is survived by his second wife Sheila Earland. 
                     No funeral or memorial plans have yet been announced.  

                                                          -- Drew Wheeler

    
  Jazz-funk organist Charles Earland dead
 
                  KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - Jazz-funk organist  Charles Earland, 
                  who helped revive interest in the traditional  Hammond B-3 organ,  
                  has died of a heart attack at age 58, his booking agent said Thursday.  

                 Earland was found dead in his hotel room Saturday morning,  still in  
                 his clothes, hours after an appearance at the Blue Room  jazz club in 
                 Kansas City, agent Abbey Hoffer said.  

                 The Philadelphia-born Earland began his musical career in 
                 a  high school dance band playing with such future jazz 
                 notables as  guitarist Pat Martino, saxophonist Lew 
                 Tabackin and pianist  Bobby Timmons. The band's 
                 trumpeter went on to gain fame as a  pop singer, the teen 
                 idol Frankie Avalon.  

                 Earland later took an interest in the Hammond B-3, the 
                 granddaddy of electric organs, while playing tenor and 
                 baritone  sax in a band with legendary organist Jimmy 
                 McGriff. He made the  switch to organ in 1963 and 
                 initially made his mark on that  instrument in saxophonist's 
                 Lou Donaldson' band, where he stayed  until 1969, then 
                 formed his own trio.  

                 His first album, "Soul Crib," got relatively little  notice, but 
                 his second release, "Black Talk!," was a  commercial 
                 success that made him a star organist and landed him  a 
                 long-term contract with Prestige records.  

                 Earland also toured overseas playing soprano sax, 
                  synthesizer, electric piano and organ at numerous 
                 European jazz  festivals.  

                 As synthesizers and electric pianos gained popularity in 
                 the  1970s, Earland was instrumental in keeping the organ 
                 alive as a  jazz and blues instrument, in the tradition of jazz 
                 Hammond  pioneer Jimmy Smith.  

                 His albums, a number of them with covers graced by 
                 photos of  beautiful women, ranged from burning funk to 
                 adaptations of pop  songs to straight-ahead jazz.  

                 Notable recordings from later in his career include "Front 
                  Burner" (1988) on the Milestone label, and his music also 
                 was  featured in the soundtracks of such films as the 
                 X-rated  animated film "Fritz the Cat" (1972) and a 
                 kung-fu action film  "The Dynamite Brothers" (1973).  

                 In a 1997 interview with Down Beat magazine, Earland 
                 said he  hoped a new crop of aspiring musicians would 
                 take up the Hammond  B-3 to succeed the older 
                 generation of organ virtuosos. "We're  not going to be 
                 here forever," he said.  

                 Earland, who was studying to become a minister during 
                 the  past few years, is survived by his wife, Sheila, and 
                 three  children.  ~ ABC NEWS 
 

 
NY TIMES
        
Charles Earland, 58, Soul-Jazz Organist and Saxophonist 
              
          Charles Earland, an organist and saxophonist who was a popular 
          exponent of the soul-jazz idiom in the 1970's, died on Saturday at 
          the Holiday Inn hotel in Kansas City, Mo., the morning after playing a 
          concert.  

          He was 58 and lived in Matteson, Ill.  

          The cause was heart failure, said his wife, Sheila.  

          Earland's stock in trade was a driving, percussive style on soul-jazz 
          versions of contemporary rhythm-and-blues and pop tunes; his "Black 
          Talk," released in 1969, became a hit.  

          After learning to play saxophone in high school, he played with the 
          Temple University band; shortly afterward, he joined the organist Jimmy 
          McGriff's band as a tenorist. In 1963 he switched to the organ when he 
          was having trouble keeping organists in his own band.  

          He found work with the saxophonist Lou Donaldson and then began to 
          make his own records for the Prestige label.  

          He made many records for the Prestige, Muse and High Note labels. At 
          the time of his death he was studying to become a minister at the Moody 
          Bible Institute in Chicago.  

          His albums were always popular on jazz radio; his latest, "Cookin' With 
          the Mighty Burner," was released on High Note in July and was in the 
          No. 1 position last month on the Gavin chart for national radio air play.  

          In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children: Charles Earland 
          III of Pasadena, Calif., Ahmad, of Lake Peekskill, N.Y., and Melissa 
          Earland, of Philadelphia. 

 
 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
All-Music Guide
 
 Born: May 24, 1941 in Philadelphia, PA
Died: December 12, 1999 
 
Charles Earland came into his own at the tail end of the great 1960s wave of soul-jazz organists, gaining a large following and much airplay with a series of albums for the the Prestige label.  While heavily indebted to Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, Earland comes armed with his own swinging, technically agile, light-textured sound on the keyboard and one of the best walking-bass pedal techniques in the business. Though not an innovative player in his field, Earland can burn with the best of them when he is on.  

Earland actually started his musical experiences surreptitiously on his father's alto sax as a kid, and when he was in high school, he played baritone in a band that also featured fellow Philadelphians Pat Martino on guitar, Lew Tabackin on tenor, and yes, Frankie Avalon on trumpet. After playing in the Temple University band, he toured as a tenor player with McGriff for three years, became infatuated with McGriff's organ playing, and started learning the Hammond B-3 at intermission breaks.  
   
When McGriff let him go, Earland switched to the organ permanently, forming a trio with Martino and drummer Bobby Durham. He made his first recordings for Choice in 1966, then joined Lou Donaldson for two years (1968-69) and two albums before being signed as a solo artist to Prestige.  Earland's first album for Prestige, Black Talk!, became a best-selling classic of the soul-jazz genre; a surprisingly effective cover of the Spiral Starecase's pop/rock hit "More Today Than Yesterday" from that LP received saturation airplay on jazz radio in 1969. He recorded eight more albums for Prestige, one of which featured a young unknown Philadelphian named Grover Washington, Jr., then switched to Muse before landing contracts with Mercury and Columbia.  
           
By this time, the organ trio genre had gone into eclipse, and in the spirit of the times, Earland acquired some synthesizers and converted to pop/disco in collaboration with his wife, singer/songwriter Sheryl Kendrick. Kendrick's death from sickle-cell anemia in 1985 left Earland desolate, and he stopped playing for awhile, but a gig at the Chickrick House on Chicago's South Side in the late '80s brought him out of his grief and back to the Hammond B-3. Two excellent albums in the old soul-jazz groove for Milestone followed, and the '90s found him returning to the Muse label. -- Richard S. Ginell, All Music Guide 


Charles Earland
                       Charles Earland started out as a saxophonist, but was 
                       so intrigued by the organ technique of his boss, Jimmy 
                       McGriff, that he decided to switch to the Hammond B-3. 
                       Since then, Earland has become one of the key stylists 
                       in the field, noted for his rolling bass lines and his hit, 
                       "More Today Than Yesterday."  

                       Born in Philadelphia in 1941, Earland learned alto 
                       saxophone in school, sneaking his father's horn to class 
                       for free lessons. In high school, where Pat Martino, 
                       Frankie Avalon and Lew Tabackin were his classmates, 
                       he played in the orchestra and marching band. After 
                       performing in the Temple University band, Earland went 
                       on the road with McGriff, teaching himself to play during 
                       intermissions. He subsequently formed his own band 
                       with Martino and drummer Bobby Durham. Beginning in 
                       1968, Earland played in New York with Lou Donaldson 
                       for a year. Earland then had a very successful album of 
                       his own compositions, Black Talk! (1969), which 
                       allowed him to tour the United States. A series of albums 
                       for Prestige, with such sidemen as Freddie Hubbard, 
                       Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson and Billy Harper followed. 
                       After 1970, he toured with his own group, adding 
                       soprano sax to his arsenal, as well as a variety of 
                       electric keyboards, but returned to his Hammond B-3 
                       roots in 1989. Earland has appeared at the Newport and 
                       Montreux Jazz Festivals, The soundtrack for the film Fritz 
                       The Cat features a piece from Black Talk!.  

                       Recommended recordings: Black Talk! (OJC, 1969).  

                                                          Paul de Barros

 
 
  
 
 

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  Artist                               Title                                                       Label

CHARLES EARLAND                BLACK TALK                                                    ORIGINAL   JAZZ (FAN)
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND                BLOWING THE BLUES AWAY                        HIGH NOTE RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND               COOKIN WITH THE MIGHTY BURNER        HIGH NOTE RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND                FRONT BURNER                                             MILESTONE RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND                INTENSITY                                                     ORIGINAL JAZZ (FAN)
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND               JAZZ ORGAN SUMMIT                                 CANNONBALL RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND               LEAVING THE PLANET                                 PRESTIGE RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND                LIVE                                                                CANNONBALL RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND               LIVING BLACK                                              PRESTIGE RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND              ORGANOMICALLY CORRECT                     32. JAZZ RECORDS
 
 

CHARLES EARLAND              SLAMMIN & JAMMIN                                  SAVANT (ROCK BOTTOM)
 
 
 

 

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