Remembering Charnett Moffett

June 10, 1967 – April 11, 2022

A tribute to the virtuosic jazz bassist

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Bassist Charnett Moffett passed away on April 11, 2022 at the age of 54.

He was born on June 10, 1967 in New York City, the son of drummer Charles Moffett Sr. and the younger brother of drummer Codaryl, singer Charisse, trumpeter Mondre, and tenor-saxophonist Charles Jr.

Charles Moffett Sr, who had worked with Ornette Coleman, led a family band with his children and Charnett was part of the group, making his recording debut on his family’s record in 1975 when he was eight.

The bassist (who was equally skilled on acoustic and electric) studied at Juilliard and was in Wynton Marsalis’ quintet during 1983-85, starting when he was 16.

Quite a prodigy, Moffett appeared on 17 records before he turned 20, worked with such notables as Branford Marsalis, Tony Williams, Slide Hampton, Mulgrew Miller, Monty Alexander, Sonny Sharrock, Stanley Jordan, David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Pharoah Sanders, Kenny Garrett, McCoy Tyner and Diane Reeves, and played regularly with Ornette Coleman during 1993-1995.

Moffett led his own records starting in 1987 and in his later years he often worked in a duo with his wife guitarist-singer Jana Herzen.

Here is Charnett Moffett on electric bass playing “Holy Spirit” in 2019 in a quintet with guitarist Jana Herzen, violinist Scott Tixier, pianist Brian Jackson, and drummer Malik Koli.

-Scott Yanow


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