Charles Lane
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Charles Lane

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Avant-garde


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Scott Yanow

Charles Lane is a saxophonist who has developed sounds of his own on tenor and soprano along with an open-minded approach towards music. Born and raised in the Chicago area and currently working as an educator in Philadelphia, Lane has performed along the way with violinist Johnny Frigo, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and the Brubeck Brothers Trio. Awaken is his second CD as a leader, following The Price Of Air.

On Awaken, Lane is featured in a quintet with electric keyboardist Dan Pierson, bassist Chris Nolte, drummer Brent Jordan and trumpeter Dan Nissenbaum, all fine players from Chicago. The music mixes together post bop improvising with the sound of 1970s fusion (thanks partly to the Fender Rhodes) and is consistently unpredictable, featuring five originals by the leader plus two covers..

The opener, “My Shattered Heart,” begins as a slow spiritual piece a la Pharoah Sanders or Coltrane, becoming a lyrical jazz waltz featuring Lane's soprano before ending where it began. Fiona Apple's funky “Criminal” is turned into a spirited romp by the quintet, showing that jazz/funk can be creative. “Dust In The Clouds” is a melodic fusionish ballad while Radiohead's “The National Anthem,” with its assertive bass pattern, is transformed into a stimulating strut highlighted by some heated interplay between the two horns.

The soulful “Clarissa,” which could have been written by Terence Blanchard, has an uplifting and optimistic feel along with one of Charles Lane's best tenor solos of the project. “Mr. Rosewater” gives the quintet (with Lane on soprano) an opportunity to play some uptempo straight ahead jazz; it has a fine spot for drummer Jordan. Awaken concludes with the catchy and somewhat hypnotic tune “In Your Eyes (sleep),” a perfect closer for the stimulating set.

Throughout Awaken, Charles Lane and his musicians display both creativity and a lot of potential for the future. This set is easily recommended.

Scott Yanow, author of ten books including Trumpet Kings, The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76 - Scott Yanow

"The Price Of Air"

From Joe Six-pack to Joe the Plumber to Joe Rock-oriented-music-enthusiast, when the term “Jazz” is brought up images are conjured of either 15 minute, unintelligible free form jams or of smooth but insufferably boring elevator music. The everyday man is content to “not get” Jazz or see it as something from another era. I admit, I more often look back than forward when listening to the genre, but that can only be seen as a fault.

Case in point: local musician and University of Illinois student, Charles Lane’s new album The Price of Air. Released October 9 at Zorba’s on Green Street, Lane’s 50 minute disc retells some tales, featuring three covers, but catches the listener’s attention with his original compositions. Though the seven-track album is a tad longer than the 30-40 minute pop/rock record, it doesn’t suffer by its length and allows for some rewarding moments to burst out of the mix. Recorded at Pogo Studios, Lane’s CD still manages to capture a vibrant, live feel. The disc features Lane on tenor and soprano saxophone while accompanied by drums, double bass, piano and trumpet.

The opening track, “Suite: Prince,” begins with a single piano note hit in 4/4 time. Slowly, other notes join in to form a chord; the rhythm section comes in and by a minute and 40 seconds in the band is in full swing. The drums, played by Brent Jordan, shine through on this track. Playing time keeper while being incredibly expressive, Jordan has some serious skills. On this track, and the album as a whole, the trumpet and saxophone have an interesting chemistry. Smooth and technically great, the saxophone is at center stage, but the bursts and bleets out of Zubin Edalji’s trumpet compliment help keep the songs dynamic. Lane and company tackle Radiohead’s “Last Flower,” my favorite cover on the album. Lane’s saxophone really recreates that desperate tone of Thom Yorke’s vocals as it mimics its melody. “My Confusion” is a scattered, desperate song that sounds exactly what the name implies is a nice departure from the sound of the rest of the album. The closing song, “The Weeping Rose,” highlights the band’s ability to work as a unit and serves as a fitting in to a solid album. Not to say that it occupies the middle ground on the previously mentioned spectrum, because that would imply mediocrity, but it does come off as very sincere, accessible and not in the least self-indulgent. - Smile


Awaken - LP, released October 2010
The Price Of Air - LP released October 2008
All music available at



Charles Lane’s saxophone playing is a completely emotional experience. His progressive view on art compliments the way he writes, plays and understands music. Charles' playing has been called "technically great, alive and vibrant" ( Renowned jazz critic Scott Yanow says, "Charles is a musician who has developed sounds of his own with an open minded approach towards music." Bending the rules of jazz by incorporating elements of the hip-hop, pop and jazz idioms, he views music as a forward thinking art-form that should be a reflection of the times, not what was, but what is and what will be.

Hailing from the North Suburbs of Chicago, Charles graduated with honors with a B.M. in Jazz Performance on the saxophone and a minor in Anthropology with an emphasis in Ethnomusicology and Andean Studies at the esteemed University Of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign in the Spring of 2009. Of the many awards and scholarships Charles has been given, he was named a Fulbright Scholar Alternate to Lima, Peru in 2009. The list of exceptional artists Charles has had the privilege of performing with include the late Jazz Violin great Johnny Frigo, Count Basie drummer Harold Jones, Frank Sinatra drummer Bob Chmel, The Brubeck Brothers Trio, bassist Jeff Campbell and pianist Reggie Thomas. He has shared the show bill with such notable artists as Wayne Escoffery, Grant Stewart, Harry Allen, Eric Alexander, Harold Mabern, Steve Wilson and many, many others.

At the young age of 18, Charles toured Spain and Portugal on a fantastic three week tour in which his combo performed all over each country respectively. While in Spain and Portugal, Charles performed at the Spanish-American Embassy in Madrid and the Portuguese-American Embassy in Lisbon as well as other top venues in each country. Charles was one of three teaching assistants selected at the prestigious Birch Creek Music Performance Workshop in the summer of 2006 where he taught some of the best up and coming Jazz musicians in the country, while also playing in the professional all-star big-band, The Birch Creek Academy Band, for two weeks. His performances have not only spanned continents, but locally in Chicago and surrounding areas, at such well-known venues as The Jazz Showcase, Pete Miller’s, Hot House, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Grant and Millennium Parks respectively.

He has released two full length albums. The first, The Price Of Air is available everywhere music is sold on internet. It is an exploration of hip-hop and free music and how they can be joined with jazz.

His second album, Awaken was October 20, 2010, and is available online as well. It blends musics steeped in jazz tradition, to arrangements of both Fiona Apple and Radiohead pieces. With five originals, Lane is as proficient a composer as he is an arranger.

Charles was honored to be named a member of 2009 Mid-Atlantic Teach for America Corps. In the summer of 2009, he moved to Philadelphia to begin his two year teaching commitment, serving high need communities in Philadelphia. Currently, he is making a name for himself in Philadelphia with a new quintet and new music. He is simultaneously working in the inner-city teaching 2nd grade, attaining his Master's in Urban Education at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and cutting his teeth on the vibrant and eclectic music scene that is Philadelphia.

As an artist, Charles is a firm believer that an appreciation and respect for the past is just as important as being a progressive and challenging musician. He constantly tries to develop ways to blend the past, present and future together in a synchronized fashion that simultaneously challenges the listener and speaks to them. For communication is the goal of all artists. That is where the true beauty lies.