The multifaceted musical force Charlie Arbelaez was born in Brooklyn, NY and moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL, at age 5. He began playing Alto Saxophone at age 10 for the band in middle school, and by age 13 was playing every Sunday at church. It was at this young age that he fell in love with playing his saxophone and performing. While in South Florida, Charlie shared the stage with many notable local jazz artists, including: Arturo Sandoval, Ira Sullivan, and Nestor Torres. When he graduated from South Plantation High School, he was the recipient of the top scholarship award from The Gold Coast Jazz Society.
After briefly attending Florida International University for Jazz Studies on full scholarship, he auditioned for the United States Marine Corps Band in 2010 and honorably served at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego from 2010-2014. While on active duty, Sergeant Arbelaez was tasked to go on various musical/educational tours throughout the United States, performing for hundreds of thousands of citizens at several highly distinguished functions as well as conducting masterclasses and clinics at numerous high schools and colleges.
In 2015, Charlie recorded his self-titled and self-released debut CD, featuring: Gilbert Castellanos, Matt Hall, Jason Shattil, Danny Weller, and Willie Jones III.
Charlie moved to New York in 2016 to attend SUNY at Purchase College and completed his Bachelor’s Degree (Magna Cum Laude) in less than two years. During his time as an undergrad, Charlie studied with Ralph Lalama, Gary Smulyan, David Hazeltine, Jon Faddis, Todd Coolman, Kenny Washington, and Charles Blenzig, amongst others.
In 2017, Charlie joined as a member of the Jazz @ The Jacobs Jazz Orchestra in San Diego for their debut performance.
Charlie moved back to San Diego in 2018 to consistently perform with his groups, including hosting The Jazz Botanika Jam Session every Tuesday night at Queen Bee’s in North Park. In March of 2020, he was nominated for Best Jazz by the San Diego Music Awards. In August of 2020, he served as Director of Music for Queen Bee’s Arts and Cultural Center for 14 months. To date—Charlie has performed with many outstanding musicians in San Diego including Mundell Lowe, Marshall Hawkins, Gilbert Castellanos, Christopher Hollyday, Mike Wofford, and Holly Hofmann.
Charlie is also an active educator; he was the Saxophone Professor at Palomar College and instructed gifted high school students at The Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, as well as having maintained a private studio both in person and online. As passionate as he is about education, Charlie obtained his Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from San Diego State University.
Charlie keeps a busy schedule making music all over South Florida.
To keep up with future dates and recordings, please visit www.charliearbelaez.com and subscribe!