Legendary classical and jazz bassist Charles Burrell celebrates his 100th birthday on October 4, 2020. KUVO Jazz will be playing tracks with Charlie Burrell at the bass on Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3.
On Sunday, Oct. 4, the public is invited to join a “drive-by” parade to celebrate Burrell’s life and legacy. Charlie will be sitting outside his residence at Brookdale Lowry and he would love to see you (at a safe distance)! See details below.
Shortly after moving to Denver in 1949, Burrell joined the Denver Symphony Orchestra. He fulfilled his life-long dream when he joined the San Francisco Symphony (1959-1965) under Pierre Monteux, whom he heard as a boy on his family’s crystal radio set. Since then, Burrell has been widely considered “the Jackie Robinson of classical music.”
Born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in Detroit’s rich musical environment, Burrell returned to the Denver Symphony Orchestra in 1965, performing with them until his retirement in 1999.
Burrell has played in a variety of jazz settings throughout his career. During World War II he played in the all-star band of Camp Robert Small naval unit with Clark Terry, Al Grey and O.C. Johnson. While in Denver, he was the city’s “first call” bassist for visiting jazz royalty. He accompanied Billie Holiday, Erroll Garner, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Sarah Vaughan and many others. Burrell played with pianist Ralph Sutton and drummer Gus Johnson in a trio format at Clyde’s Pub in Wheat Ridge.
Charlie Burrell has taught, mentored and influenced many world-class musicians in his storied career, including bassists Ray Brown and Major Holley, keyboardist George Duke (his cousin), and his niece, NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves.
Mr. Burrell is a recipient of the Denver Mayor’s Award for Excellence in 2008 and he was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2017.
Burrell is featured in L.D. Olken’s 1999 documentary “Jazz in Five Points,” part of the Rocky Mountain Legacy series aired on Rocky Mountain PBS. See video below.
JOIN THE PARADE TO CELEBRATE CHARLES BURRELL’s 100th BIRTHDAY—Vehicles with well-wishers are invited to begin gathering on Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 10:15 am, at the back of Brookdale Lowry, 150 Quebec, Denver, CO. Staging will begin on East 1st Street. Look for signs and parade marshals to direct you. Signs and balloons are welcome, and Charlie’s family will put all the birthday cards into a binder for Charles to enjoy.
The parade begins at 10:30 am.
Celebrants who leave their car are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing.