Skip to main content

Charles, Denis (also Dennis)

Charles, Denis (also Dennis)

Charles, Denis (also Dennis), jazz drummer, percussionist; b. St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Dec. 4, 1933; d. N.Y., March 26, 1998. His father played congas, guitar, and banjo. He played congas as child; the family moved to N.Y. in 1945 and he took up drumming (1954), teaching himself by listening to records by Art Blakey and Roy Haynes. Charles played at West Indian parties and dances with calypso and mambo bands in Harlem in late 1950s. He met Cecil Taylor at Connie’s Inn and became one of the few drummers to play and record (1955–61) with him. He also recorded with Steve Lacy (1957, 1963–64, 1979, 1982). He was in the Jack Gelber play The Connection. Charles played with Gil Evans (1959), Jimmy Giuffre, Wilbur Ware, Archie Shepp (1967), and Don Cherry; he recorded West Indian folk tunes with his brother Frank and Sonny Rollins. He worked with Lacy again in the 1970s, and with Billy Bang (1981–82) and Lacy in the 1980s. He made his first recording as a leader of his own group in 1989. He died of a heart attack after returning from a European tour.


Queen Mary (1989). C. Taylor: Jazz Advance (1955); Looking Ahead! (1958); Cell Walk for Celeste (1961). S. Lacy: Soprano Sax (1957). G. Evans: Great Jazz Standards (1959).

—Lewis Porter

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Charles, Denis (also Dennis)." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . 18 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Charles, Denis (also Dennis)." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . (April 18, 2019).

"Charles, Denis (also Dennis)." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Retrieved April 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.