Dr. Charles McPherson is a legendary bebop jazz saxophonist and composer.
Born in Joplin Missouri, Dr. McPherson moved to Detroit at age 9 and started playing the saxophone, developing in the rich Detroit music scene alongside such great musicians such as Barry Harris, Lonnie Hilyer, Roy Brooks, Donald Walden, Louis Hayes as well as future Motown legends and members of the Motown house rhythm section, bassist James Jamerson and drummer Richard “Pistol” Allen.
After moving to New York in 1959, McPherson began his association with Charles Mingus, which lasted for the next 12 years.
He has performed on over 70 recordings to date, both as a leader and as a sideman. McPherson has performed and recorded with many jazz greats, including: Pepper Adams, Nat Adderley, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Randy Brecker, Jaki Byard, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Alan Dawson, Kenny Dorham, Kenny Drew, Billy Eckstine, Tommy Flanagan, Lionel Hampton, Tom Harrell, Billy Higgins, Sam Jones, Clifford Jordan, Duke Jordan, Brian Lynch, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Cecil McBee, Jay McShann, Mulgrew Miller, James Moody, Dannie Richmond, Red Rodney, Cedar Walton, Phil Woods, Snooky Young, and many others.
In 1988, Dr. McPherson was featured in the soundtrack to the Clint Eastwood film “Bird” as the saxophone voice of Charlie Parker in several scenes.
In 2015, Dr McPherson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from California State University at San Marcos. In 2016, he was joined by drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath in receiving the Don Redman Jazz Heritage Award. Most recently, in 2017, Dr. McPherson was the recipient of “The Duke” Award from Soka University.
We discuss his development in Detroit, his approach to improvisation, we analyze many of his original compositions, meeting Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Monk, Charles Mingus and so much more!