Alto and baritone saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase (b. 11/28/56, Portsmouth, NH) has been a part of Boston’s jazz scene for more than thirty years. After private studies with Stan Strickland and Roswell Rudd Kohlhase moved to Boston from his native New Hampshire in 1980. In 1989 he formed the Charlie Kohlhase Quintet, a band that worked around Boston and toured nationally for a dozen years. Kohlhase has recently been leading two ensembles: the Explorer’s Club, an octet with two reeds, trumpet, tuba, piano, guitar, bass and drums and the Saxophone Support Group, a woodwind octet that plays saxophone-oriented compositions by Julius Hemphill, Steve Lacy, John Tchicai and Kohlhase. 2009 saw the release of the Explorers Club CD “Adventures” on Vermont’s Boxholder label. Kohlhase also co-led groups with the late, great Danish/ Congolese saxophonist John Tchicai for New England tours in 1993, 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2006. Charlie was a member of Boston’s Either/ Orchestra from 1987 to 2001, playing throughout North America, Europe and Russia. Recent sideman activities have included work with the Makanda Project, a large ensemble dedicated to performing unrecorded compositions by the late woodwind player/ composer Makanda Ken McIntyre, bassist Kit Demos’ Flame-Tet and trumpeter Daniel Rosenthal’s Quintet. Charlie, along with Dave Douglas and Roswell Rudd, was an artist-in-residence at Harvard for Spring 2003. In May 2003 Kohlhase recorded with Anthony Braxton’s Genome Project and in June worked with violinist/ composer Leroy Jenkins at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Charlie rejoined the Either/ Orchestra in 2008 and has worked with them along with Ethio-Jazz greats Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke, Alemayhu Eschete and Teshome Mitiku in venues ranging from Chicago to London, Toronto to Germany and Holland to Ethiopia.

  Charlie has also been active in jazz radio for many years, most recently hosting “Research & Development” Monday afternoons from 2 to 4 PM on WMBR-FM in Cambridge. He directs the Modern American Music Repertory Ensemble at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge.
“Kohlhase’s own themes are as action-packed as a comic book and as spontaneous in feel as graffiti.”
(Nate Dorward, Squid’s Ear)

Photos by Rob Miller

“As a mainstay in Boston’s jazz scene, saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase has helped cultivate the city as one of America’s most fertile hotbeds for creative music.”
(John Murph, Jazz Times Magazine)

Selected Discography

With the Explorers Club:
“Adventures” (2007, Boxholder)

With the CK5:
“CK5 Live!” (2001-2, Creative Nation)

With the Charlie Kohlhase Quintet:
“Play Free Or Die” (2001, Boxholder)
“Dancing On My Bedpost” (1998, CIMP)
“Dart Night” (1995, Accurate)
“Good Deeds” (1992, Accurate)
“Research & Development” (1990, Accurate)

Various co-led sessions:
“Tribal Ghost” with John Tchicai, Garrison Fewell, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart

                                   (2007, NoBusiness LP)
“Good Night Songs” with John Tchicai and Garrison Fewell (2003, Boxholder)
“North Country Pie” with David Wertman and Lou Grassi (2002, CIMP)
“Eventuality” with Roswell Rudd (2000, Nada)
“Congeniality” with Mitch Seidman and Jeff Galindo (1999, Cadence)
“You Start” saxophone duets with Matt Langley (1999, Boxholder)
“Life Overflowing” with John Tchicai (1998, Nada)
“Konk” with Keith Hedger, Nate McBride and Curt Newton (1998, Boxholder)

With Dead Cat Bounce:
“Chance Episodes” (2010, Cuneiform)
“Home Speaks To The Wandering” (2004, Innova)
“Legends Of The Nar” (2001, Chonsky)

With Mulatu Astatke:
“Mulatu Steps Out” (2008, Strut)

With the Central Artery Project:
“Live Recordings 2001-2003” (2001-2003, Creative Nation)
With the Either/ Orchestra:
“Mood Music For Time Travelers” (2008, Accurate)
“Neo-Modernism” (2001, Accurate)
“Afro-Cubism” (2001, Accurate)
“More Beautiful Than Death” (1999, Accurate)
“Across The Omniverse” (1989-1996, Accurate)
“The Brunt” (1994, Accurate)
“The Calculus Of Pleasure” (1990, Accurate)
“The Half-Life Of Desire” (1989, Accurate)
“Radium” (1988, Accurate)

With the Mandala Octet:
“The Last Elephant” (1992, Accurate)
“La Spada di San Galgano” (1989, Accurate)
“The Notion Of Obstacle” (1988, Volition)

Bruce Lee Gallanter (Downtown Music Gallery) Review of Equalibrium - Fitness Landscapes

​EQUILIBRIUM [With PEK/JAMES COLEMAN/TATSUYA NAKATANI + CHARLIE KOHLHASE /MATT LANGLEY] - Fitness Landscapes (Evil Clown; USA) Featuring Pek on saxes, clarinet & bassoon, James Coleman on theremin, Tatsuya Nakatani on percussion plus added on one long track: Charlie Kohlhase & Matt Langley on saxes. Equilibrium is another of Dave Peck's (aka Pek) projects. Equilibrium consists of Pek, James Coleman on theremin (who has worked with Bhob Rainey & Greg Kelley) and percussion wiz Tatsuya Nakatani (one of my fave players, who has worked with Dr. Chadbourne, Mary Halvorson and Billy Bang). Both guest saxists here, Charlie Kohlhase & Matt Langely, are Boston-based and have recorded together on more than a half dozen discs. This is the one disc by Mr. Peck and his cohorts that has all familiar names on board. This disc consists of two long pieces, the first of which features just the trio of Pek, Coleman and Nakatani. It was recorded live at Mass Art In Boston in September of 1999. I dig the way the trio take their time and improvise, quietly at first, slowly getting to know each other as they evolve together. At nearly 40 minutes long, it is like a long story unfolding, paced just right never too busy or too intense but always interesting. The second piece is called "Phase Space" and it features three reeds, theremin & percussion. This piece again takes it time but lets all three reeds work together in strong and spirited ways, building, criss-crossing with sections of free/jazz frenetics. Again, the balance, recording and pace is careful and well-handled. Often Mr. Nakatani's unique approach to percussion (bowed gongs, etc.) and theremin are in similar timbral terrain. More great music form points little known.

     - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Charlie Kohlhase appears on the following Evil Clown titles:

Leap of Faith

Charlie Kohlhase Bio

​On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... ​using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation."   - Squidco website staff

Evil Clown ​