Charles Fambrough (August 25, 1950 – January 1, 2011), jazz bassist, composer, educator.

Charles “Broski” Fambrough was an accomplished jazz performer on both upright and electric bass. Born in Philadelphia, Fambrough began musical training on the piano, but switched to the bass at the age of 13. After playing in pit orchestras and various show bands, he joined Grover Washington, Jr.’s group in 1970, staying with him for 4 years. He later played with Freddie Hubbard, Airto Moreira & Flora Purim, McCoy Tyner, and most famously with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, who featured the young Marsalis brothers at the time. He later played with Wynton Marsalis’ quintet and led a trio with Kenny Kirkland and Jeff “Tain” Watts. He also was associated with Lenny White and appeared on the drummer’s 2010 album “Anomaly”. In addition to his many recordings as a sideman, he released several albums as a leader, most of which feature his acclaimed compositions, known for the contrast between melodic simplicity and harmonic complexity.

Fambrough was a member of the music faculty at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He had been in poor health for several years, due to kidney failure and required dialysis. A tribute and benefit concert was held last month in Philadelphia which included performances by Lenny White, Stanley Clarke, Gary Bartz, Wallace Roney, and many others. He died on New Year’s Day, 2011. He had been on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.

In a 1996 interview with All About Jazz, he discussed his music and his goals:

“My albums are like puzzles. It’s up to the audience to see how they piece together. They come from… playing on the road for 25 years with different people: Art Blakey and McCoy Tyner… Airto. Playing opposite George Benson, opening for Earth Wind and Fire … Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. Everyone has a goal… I was fortunate. My goal in life was to play with McCoy Tyner… and Art Blakey.”

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