Charles Ruggiero

Charles Ruggiero




Born in Rochester, N.Y., August 31st, 1971, Charles was destined to be a drummer. His father, Vinnie Ruggiero, was a genius drummer and a musician’s musician. “There was always music around the house in some way or another. Plus, guys like Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Freddie Hubbard, and Jon Hendricks would come and stay with us.”

Although his father passed away before Charles turned 10, his recordings and his legend were passed down. “Yeah, when I started to really pursue music, at about 12, I started to go and sit in on my teacher’s gigs.” His teacher, Steve Curry, had incidentally been one of Vinnie’s best students. “Steve was great, and he had all these gigs with the ‘old guard’ who had played with my dad, so they’d sit around and tell stories about him. I was probably too young to hear some of it but…”
During middle school and high school Charles got serious about drumming, playing anywhere he could. “Jazz band, school chorus, musicals, local bands…anything.” As his reputation grew, he won various scholarships and beat out hundreds of other drummers to play for All County and All State Jazz ensembles. He knew he was onto something when other high schools, and even local colleges, started to hire him to play for their music programs. “It was awesome not to have to work at Pizza Hut anymore.”

In 1990, Manhattan School of Music offered a full scholarship and a chance to study with Justin DiCioccio. “My time at MSM was invaluable. Justin is the best, and the scene in New York at that time was beautiful. I was playing a lot with Joshua Redman, Peter Bernstein, Brad Mehldau, Larry Goldings, Chris Potter, Dwayne Burno, and guys of that ilk. And seeing drummers like Jimmy Cobb and Greg Huchinson every night didn’t hurt…well, it hurt a little.”

After a few years on the NYC jazz scene, Charles eventually landed the gig with Jazz superstar, Chuck Mangione. “That was fun. I’ll never forget it. I got back to playing music with a back beat and we were flying all over the world to do it. Plus, the first few months the band had a ‘special’ guest…Steve Gadd.” Charles soaked up all he could in the short time he and Gadd shared a stage. “You had to. Who even gets that opportunity? And he’s, well, beyond words…as a player AND person.”

After leaving Mangione’s band, Ruggiero played in various projects, splitting his time between Rochester and NYC. Finally off the road, he began making several records as a sideman. He has also recorded three albums with his own band, The Macktet, a joint venture with Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Al Street, and Adam Scone. “That band is killer. Good groove, good time, good vibes. It’s just ‘feelin good’ music. I can’t say enough about that band.”

In 2003, former MTV/VH1 vee-jay, Abby Gennet, asked Ruggiero to play on a demo of a few of her songs and Rock-n-Roll band SLUNT was born. “SLUNT has been incredible. I had forgotten how fun smackin’ some drums around can be.”

The band’s rise was quick. In only their second year, they were on tour with Marilyn Manson and Motorhead, supporting their debut “Get a Load of This.” In 2006, their sophomore CD, “One Night Stand,” was released and earned them both critical acclaim and a spot on tour with Paul Stanley this past winter. “We grew a lot as a band between records and, as a result, I got to open up groovewise on this new one, which is nice. I love playing drums, I love to use my instrument to create music. I look forward to that every day.”

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