Charli Persip was born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1929.
He gained early experience in the Elks Drum and Bugle Corps, studied with the renowned teacher Al Germansky, and later attended Julliard.
He is one of the few drummers in jazz history that is equally known as an excellent drummer in both big bands and small groups. Persip gained early experience playing with Tadd Dameron in 1953, which led to a five year gig replacing Teddy Stewart (and Kenny Clarke earlier) in Dizzy Gillespie’s big band and quintet from 1953 to 1958.
Persip is a tasteful big band drummer who reads well, and not only sets up the brass, but leaves room for the reeds. In 1959, he formed his own group and recorded his first album “The Jazz Statesmen,” a high quality session worth searching out.
Persip appeared on many sessions in the 1950’s and ‘60s with such players as Hank Mobley, Red Garland, Lee Morgan, Gil Evans, Don Ellis, Gene Ammons, and Archie Shepp, among others. During this time he roomed with good friend Elvin Jones, and appeared with Elvin, Blakey, and Philly Joe Jones on the outstanding recording “Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland.” This recording finds Charli, Elvin, and Philly Joe exchanging some thrilling brush work on the piece “Tune Up.”
Persip went on to work with David “Fathead” Newman, which led to a stint with Ray Charles. He later toured with singer Billy Eckstine from 1966 to 1973, a gig that no doubt afforded him time to hone his brush chops. In fact, Charli has a great deal experience in supporting great singers such as Etta Jones, Joe Williams, and Dinah Washington.
Persip’s professionalism, versatility, and musicality has made him a mainstay on the international music scene for over 50 years. Charli spent years as the drummer in the house band at the Apollo Theater. He also played R&B, Doo Wop and many styles outside of the jazz lexicon.
In addition to being a hard-working musician with a long playing career, Charli is also passing down his accumulated wisdom to the younger generations of drummers and musicians.
Charli was the main drum instructor for New York’s Jazzmobile in the mid ‘70s, educating many drummers that have gone on to noted success.
Persip has also authored an insightful book titled “How Not To Play The Drums” and has led his Superband big band since the early ‘80s, recording several dates and featuring the youngest and the brightest future stars.