Cultural Percussionist

Charlie Biddle Day

Charles ReedCharlieBiddle, CM (July 28, 1926 – February 4, 2003) was a Canadian jazz bassist.

In West Philadelphia, born and raised, Biddle lived most of his life in Montreal. However, he did not become a Canadian citizen until his last years. After completing military duties in the US Armed Forces during World War II, serving in China, India and Burma, he went on to study music at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he started playing bass. In 1948, he arrived in Montreal while touring with Vernon Isaac’s Three Jacks and a Jill. Biddle was fascinated by the fact that in Canada, particularly Quebec, you would see black jazz musicians playing alongside white jazz musicians as the best of friends. Impressed with the opened-mindedness of the people of Canada in matters of race, he decided to settle down in Montreal, and fell in love with a French-Canadian woman, Constance. The two eventually married and raised three daughters – Sonya, Stephanie and Tracy – and a son, Charles Biddle Jr.

Biddle was employed as a car salesman from 1954 to 1972, while performing with pianists Charlie Ramsey, Milt Sealey, Alfie Wade, Sadik Hakim, and Stan Patrick in local Montreal nightclubs. As a promoter, he booked musicians Johnny Hodges, John Coltrane, Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Tommy Flanagan and Thad Jones to perform in Montreal. He performed off and on with guitarist Nelson Symonds between 1959 and 1978. Between 1961 and 1963 they performed together under Biddle’s leadership at Dunn’s, La Tête de l’Art, etc.; and under Symonds’ leadership at the Black Bottom from 1964 to 1968. As a duo they performed at several resort communities in the Laurentians between 1974 and 1978.

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