New Hampshire-based multi-instrumentalist Charlie Jennison began his jazz career in 1961 playing at rotary clubs and at other local functions while still in junior high school. Moving to New Hampshire in 1965 when his father retired from the Navy, he helped revitalize the jazz program both as a student and later as a faculty member at the University of New Hampshire from which he graduated in 1969 with a degree in Music Education. During his undergraduate years, Jennison studied with such major jazz figures as Jerry Coker, Jerry Bergonzi and Charlie Mariano. Some of his former students include David Pietro, Jim Pisano and Jeff Coffin, all successful teachers and performers in their own right. He also pursued classical saxophone studies with Dr. Donald Bravo from Lowell State University, Paul Brodie, and Stan Hettinger. The defining moment in Jennison’s career came about when he met pianist Tom Gallant, a teacher at the Berklee School of Music and an alumnus of Woody Herman’s band. Jennison played with Gallant and bassist Jim Howe for more than 30 years, particularly at the Press Room in Portsmouth. He has also shared the stage with such notable jazz musicians as Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Hinton, Buddy DeFranco, Alan Dawson, Sal Nistico, and Marshal Royal.
In 1996, Jennison released his first album for Maine’s Invisible Music label titled Iridescence, which features Jennison’s tenor and soprano saxophone skills. In a quartet format, the album’s play list is comprised of ten Jennison originals, which run the tempo gamut from ballads to faster paced material. In addition to backing vocalists Sharon Jones, Kathleen Kolman and Leila Percy on their projects, he has recorded as sideman on numerous artists’ albums including Irish folksinger Tommy Makem’s Lonesome Waters and with Randy Armstrong’s New Age music groups DOAH and Unu Mondo. A member of the Capital Jazz Orchestra which toured recently with clarinetist Ken Peplowski, Jennison also plays in and writes jazz arrangements for two other local big bands, and in addition to transcription and recording projects and performing in local venues, currently holds the position of instructor of saxophone and jazz piano at New Hampshire’s Phillip Exeter Academy.
Short Intro Bio:
At 70 years young, Charlie Jennison has been an active member of the Seacoast jazz scene since the early 1970s when he first appeared on saxophone with the Tommy Gallant trio at the Press Room. A member of both the Capital Jazz Orchestra and the Seacoast Big Band, he also enjoys performing selections from the “Great American Songbook” in the intimacy of the small club and restaurant environment.
Charlie’s activity in the Seacoast Area of New Hampshire started in the early 1970s. He played both as a solo artist on piano and with various groups on saxophone in locations such as the Oar House, Dolphin Striker, Press Room, Kearsarge Hotel, Wentworth By The Sea, Blue Mermaid, The Metro, Horse of a Different Color, Prescott Park and The Kit Kat Club, as well as up the coast at the York Harbor Inn, Arrows, Clay Hill Tavern, Jonathan’s in Oqunquit, the Cape Neddick Inn and Cape Neddick Lobster Pound, to name a few.