Charles McPherson (born July 24, 1939) is an American jazz alto saxophonist born in Joplin, Missouri, and raised in Detroit, Michigan, most notable for his work from 1960 to 1972 with Charles Mingus.
A Charlie Parker disciple who brings his own lyricism to the bebop language, Charles McPherson has been a reliable figure in modern mainstream jazz for more than 35 years. He played in the Detroit jazz scene of the mid-'50s, moved to New York in 1959, and within a year was working with Charles Mingus. McPherson and his friend Lonnie Hillyer succeeded Eric Dolphy and Ted Curson as regular members of Mingus' band in 1961 and he worked with the bassist off and on up until 1972. Although he and Hillyer had a short-lived quintet in 1966, McPherson was not a full-time leader until 1972. In 1978, he moved to San Diego, which has been his home ever since and sometimes he uses his son, Chuck McPherson, on drums. Charles McPherson, who helped out on the film Bird by playing some of the parts not taken from Charlie Parker records, has led dates through the years for Prestige (1964-1969), Mainstream, Xanadu, Discovery, and Arabesque.
McPherson also was commissioned to help record ensemble renditions of pieces from Charlie Parker on the 1988 soundtrack for the film Bird.