Denis Charles: An Interrupted Conversation | Chicago Reader

Denis Charles: An Interrupted Conversation

Jazz drummer Denis Charles (1933-'98), who was born in the Virgin Islands, came to the U.S. as a child, after his father put him and his brothers on a plane without telling them he wasn't coming along. By the 1950s Charles was playing with Cecil Taylor, who helped him become more spontaneous, but at the same time Charles became a drug addict. By the 80s he was homeless and sleeping in doorways, recovering only in the 90s. Unfortunately the whole is less than the sum of its parts in this video by Veronique N. Doumbé, who never finds a compelling thread to connect the dots between Charles's life, personality, and art. The best things here are the too-short clips of Charles's wildly energetic and amazingly precise music. 76 min.

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