Burrell resolved to play one day for Monteux - his idol.
In 1941, he was drafted into the all-black naval unit at Camp Robert Smalls, at Great Lakes Naval Base, near Chicago where he played in the unit's all-star band with Clark Terry, Al Grey, and O. C. Johnson.
Burrell took classes at Northwestern University and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
After the war, Burrell used the G.I. Bill to attend Wayne State University in Detroit where he excelled in his music courses, but was discouraged by the racism of his advisers.
In 1949, he was hired by the Denver Symphony Orchestra and went on to play under Pierre Monteux by joining the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
In 1965, Burrell returned to the Denver Symphony Orchestra and met his wife, Melanie, a cellist.
Charles Burrell has mentored and taught Tony Knight of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Major Holly, and Ray Brown.
Other musicians guided by Burrell are jazz pianist George Duke and Burrell's niece, jazz vocalist Diane Reeves.
Courtesy: Donnie L. Betts and Denver Public Library
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