Born in Zürich, Antolini started playing the traditional Swiss Basler drum and in 1956 went to Paris where he played with Sidney
Bechet, Bill Coleman among others, and playing in the Oldtime Jazz Band "The Tremble Kids" with trumpeter Oscar
Klein and clarinettist Werner Keller. In 1962 he went to live in
Stuttgart, Germany, where he spent five years playing with bassist Peter Witte and pianist Horst Jankowski in the SWR Bigband led by Erwin Lehn. With bassist Peter Witte, between 1965 and 1967, he recorded five albums for the Romanian pianist Eugen Cicero,
a new talent who translated classical music into jazz (Lizt, Chopin, Tschaikowsky). He also played in big bands with Kurt Edelhagen, Peter Herbolzheimer and Max Greger in
the NDR Bigband.
In 1976 he set up his own band, "Charly Antolini's Jazz Power", originally featuring Steve
Hooks (tenor sax); Andrei Lobanov (trumpet); David Gazarov (keyboards) and Rocky Knauer (bass), although later members were Len
Skeat and Brian Lemon. In the 1980s he toured Germany, Italy and Denmark with Benny Goodman, as well as with Lionel Hampton, Barbara Dennerlein, Albert Mangelsdorff, Earl
Hines, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Giuffre, Art
Farmer, Oliver Nelson, Art Van Damme, Stuff
Smith, Baden Powell among others.
In the late 1980s-early 1990s he recorded four albums with British tenor saxophonist Dick Morrissey, three of which were live, and in 1994 he set up the band Super Trio with pianist Dirk
Raufeisen and bassist Jimmy Woode.
At the end of 2004, with Herman Rarebell and Pete York, Antolini formed a three-drummer project called Drum Legends, and released a live CD and DVD.