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Charles Neville

  • 224
    scrobbles
  • 54
    listeners

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Biography

Charles, the second oldest Neville brother, has the most diverse musical background. His experience on saxophone has included rhythm & blues, funk, jazz, be-bop, popular and even American Indian music. He cites as influences Louis Jordan, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Professor Longhair. He is also the only brother that lived away from New Orleans for long periods of time, making places like New York, Memphis and Oregon his home.

Always exposed to music in the Neville household, Charles started playing saxophone before he reached his teens. At the age of 12, he joined the band at school. He and his brother Art formed a band called Turquoise while teenagers. As did brothers Art and Aaron, Charles also played briefly with the Hawketts. By the time he was 15, he had quit school, and was on the road with Gene Franklin & the Houserockers - part of a traveling variety show.

After his road tour, Charles returned to New Orleans, where he had the good fortune to play in the house band of the Dew Drop Inn. In the 1950s, the Dew Drop was a major venue for nationally known musicians and local New Orleans talent, and the experience left a lasting impression on Charles. From 1954 to 1956, Charles was on the road backing rhythm & blues greats like Johnny Ace, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Big Maybelle, James Brown, B.B. King, Bobby Bland and Ray Charles. Not ignoring his hometown, he also played saxophone behind Allen Toussaint, James Booker, Ernie K-Doe and Huey “Piano” Smith.

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