Charli Persip the legendary jazz drummer and teacher has died. He was 91. Hell of an innings. And what a player. Persip, born Charles, called “Charlie” but he changed the spelling in the 1980s to “Charli”, was a bandleader and educator. He was also on some of the greatest jazz albums you now and love by so many of the legends from the genre.
Harry Edison, Don Ellis, Art Farmer, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Red Garland, David “Fathead” Newman, Quincy Jones, George Russell, Cannonball Adderley, George Benson, Donald Byrd, Ron Carter, Ray Charles, Hank Mobley, Louis Jordan, Zoot Sims, Archie Shepp, Big Joe Turner, Dinah Wasington, Kai Winding, Blue Mitchell, Part Martino and Kenny Burrell.
That’s just some of the names to feature Charli Persip on their albums. Eric Dolphy, Gil Evans, Erroll Garner, Johnny Griffin, Lionel Hampton…the list really does go on. And on.
Of the many albums I own and love that feature Persip’s precise, perfect playing I’ll single out Stretching Out, a Zoot Sims/Bob Brookmeyer album (it also features Harry “Sweets” Edison, Hank Jones and Freddie Green) as a classy little small-combo ‘cool’ jazz classic.
And Sonny Side Up which transcended the gimmick of pairing tenor saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins on account of their name. The record is a classic. It features Tommy Bryant (bass) and Ray Bryant (piano) combining with Persip to make a killer rhythm section and Dizzy Gillespie sits in for the opening tune, a classic reading of On The Sunny Side Of The Street. Man this album is great. And Persip is inspiring. Such a flawless technique as he moves through bop and uses brushes with taste, sticks with speed and subtly. He’s just sublime.
But there he is also with Ray Charles and Quincy and Lionel Hampton. Man, what a player. What a life. Making it to 91. And playing on literally hundreds of albums. There’s a chance, if you love music, that Charli Persip is in your record collection even if you never knew that, even if this is your first time reading his name. Isn’t that a feat now? Isn’t that really something!
R.I.P. Charli Persip