A Brilliant Pianist

Charlie Wilson is a pianist who lives in Cincinnati and plays out on a rare occasion, usually in the company of King Reeves, an equally talented vibraphonist. Sometimes the two of them work as a duet and sometimes they expand the lineup to a quintet. Decades ago, while he was living in California, Charlie played with Don Cherry – and this goes back far enough that it was actually before the Ornette Coleman Quartet that changed the shape of jazz. After moving to Cincinnati, Charlie toured with Roland Kirk.

 Those are some heavy hitters, and Charlie was every bit their equal. And he still plays the piano and performs now. I caught him and King Reeves a few times at the Greenwich, and I’ve always wanted to document their performances, but unfortunately all I have to do that with is a cheap Kodak. That’s the reason the screen is almost completely dark in the video that I posted on youtube and included as a link to this blog. Even with the lights out, though, you can feel the connection between Charlie and the audience – and you can also sense his talent for improvising compositions where “the main theme” that the human mind has been trained to seek out gets hinted at but never fully revealed. Here’s the video:


I’m going to try to arrange to have Charlie Wilson and King Reeves perform as a duet at the Blue Wisp in the near future – I’ll let you know more about that as soon as those plans materialize. Might I add, before I end this blog, that Charlie and King are two of the coolest, sweetest and nicest people I’ve ever met – and funny. And they’re jazz musicians to the core.


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