Charlie Mariano © 2004 by Gerd Löser Charlie Mariano Tribute

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Carl Abernathy | Clifford Allen | Georg Breinschmid | John Diliberto | Tom Gsteiger | Ronan Guilfoyle | Patrick Hinely | Thorsten Klentze | Reiner Kobe | Michael Lohmann | André Nendza | Pippo Pollina | Thierry Quénum | Ramesh Shotham


Charlie Mariano Dies

Jazz saxophonist Charlie Mariano died Tuesday at age 85.

By Carl Abernathy, published June 17, 2009

When I was still a kid, Charles Mingus introduced me to Mariano in the credits for "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" and, of course, in the grooves of the record, one of my favorites of all time. Over the years, I've enjoyed Mariano's work on his own records as well as on those by Stan Kenton, Shelly Manne, Herb Ellis and many others.

Tonight, though, I'm celebrating his life by listening to the "Toshiko Mariano Quartet," an album he recorded in 1960 with his former wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi. The album really is a celebration because Mariano's play is so bright and spirited, so full of life.

That's especially true on "When Your Meet Her" and "Little T." On those tunes, Mariano sounds playful, almost as if he's flirting with Akiyoshi ... and with us.

Listen to Mariano's recordings over the years and you'll always hear that spark.

Check the Web page of my online pal Juan-Carlos Hernandez, the noted jazz photographer, for an excellent photo of Mariano.

RIP.


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Carl Abernathy (USA)


Charlie Mariano [1923-2009]

By Clifford Allen, published in the August 2009 issue of All About Jazz New York

Making a name for oneself in the cutting-contest world of bebop was a difficult thing in the '40s, a ripe period when swing was giving itself over to the "new thing" of improvising on melodic-rhythmic changes. Yet there were players who came out of the bebop language who continued to invent. Saxophonist/flutist Charlie Mariano was one of those restless innovators.

Mariano was born Carmine Ugo Mariano on Nov. 12th, 1923 in Boston. Under the influence of Lester Young, he took up the saxophone as a teenager, receiving an alto as a gift from his sister. After a stint in the Army, he returned to Boston and came under the spell of Charlie Parker. He attended the Schillinger School (later Berklee) on the GI Bill, studying under Joe Viola. Music school opened doors and Mariano worked in the bands of Nat Pierce, Serge Chaloff and Herb Pomeroy, as well as leading his first sessions for Imperial and, later, Prestige and Bethlehem.

By the mid '50s, Mariano was leading the saxophone section of Stan Kenton's band as well as arranging; an on-and-off position, he left the group for Los Angeles and drummer Shelly Manne's quintet, for which he wrote a number of compositions and recorded five albums. In 1958, he returned to Boston and began teaching at Berklee, where he met his second wife, Japanese pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi. In 1967, Mariano went on exchange to Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, where he became interested in Indonesian and South Asian music, especially the nadaswaram (a South Indian double-reed instrument).

Mariano's 'second career' began when he relocated to Holland and then Belgium, working with Dutch pianist Jasper van't Hof and Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine. His approach to alto and soprano saxes and flute, with both an edgy keen and an understanding of Indian modes, was perfectly suited to jazz-rock. It wasn't long before he joined the progrock band Embryo, as well as forming Porkpie with van't Hof and Catherine in 1973. Mariano closed out the decade playing in German bassist-cellist Eberhard Weber's group Colours and the multi-national United Jazz + Rock Ensemble.

From the '80s onward, Mariano was based in Cologne, Germany, leading his own combos and guesting with artists as diverse as Mal Waldron, Anthony Braxton, Kent Carter and Theo Jörgensmann. Revered and downright 'popular' in Western Europe, Mariano's work is certainly far less-discussed in American jazz circles. After a long illness, Mariano passed away June 16th, 2009 at age 85.


Reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 2009 All About Jazz New York and Clifford Allen (USA)


charlie mariano

By Georg Breinschmid, published June 19, 2009

gestern abend habe ich die traurige nachricht erhalten, dass charlie mariano gestorben ist, im hohen alter von fünfundachtzig. charlie war ein wunderbarer musiker, ein grosser altsaxophonist, der u.a. auch auf wichtigen aufnahmen von charles mingus mitwirkte ("black saint and the sinner lady"), und natürlich auch zahllose eigene ensembles, u.a. auch mit indischen musikern, leitete. seit vielen jahren hatte er seinen wohnsitz nach europa verlegt und in köln gelebt. ich hatte die ehre, einige male mit ihm zu spielen — das erste mal im april 1999, zusammen mit kenny wheeler und fritz pauer, bei einem konzert im wiener radiokulturhaus — mein kollege hans strasser hatte mich am nachmittag desselben tages angerufen, ob ich für ihn einspringen könnte (hans fiel aus familiären gründen aus). das war damals natürlich sehr aufregend für mich, und das konzert, in dem ich auch etliche geniale kompositionen von kenny wheeler kennen und lieben lernte, war ein grosser erfolg. zwei jahre später, im jänner 2001, spielte ich im (kurz zuvor neueröffneten) porgy&bess in wien im rahmen eines dreitägigen charlie mariano-porträts ein set mit charlie im duo; und im selben jahr noch ein konzert in cormons (norditalien), diesmal im trio mit jasper van`t hof. charlie war auch ein sehr liebenswürdiger mensch, ich habe nur die besten erinnerungen an unsere wenigen treffen, auch an seine erzählungen über seine früheren jahre — natürlich ist es auch ein besonderes erlebnis, mit jemandem zu arbeiten, der noch charlie parker, eric dolphy u.v.a. persönlich gekannt hat.. goodbye charlie, you will be missed!


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Georg Breinschmid (Austria)


Charlie Mariano — From Bop to Fusion to India to Gone

Saxophonist Charlie Mariano passed at 86 on June 16, 2009


By John Diliberto, published June 17, 2009

Charlie Mariano was a second tier bop saxophonist with a biting, post-Charlie Parker sound who later showed the influence of John Coltrane and became enthralled with eastern music. In addition to his saxophones, he started playing an obscure, oboe-like instrument from India called the nagaswarum. Mariano came to renown with Stan Kenton in the 1950s, played with Charles Mingus on Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and married big band leader Toshiko Akiyoshi, with whom he played for several years.

In 1967 Mariano took a left turn and started playing fusion before there was any such thing. He had a band called Osmosis that released one album in 1970 of mixed success on RCA. That was how I first saw Mariano. He was playing with the group on a WGBH-TV show called Mixed Bag that had a lot of Boston jazz acts on. Mariano was playing the nagaswaram, which almost reached the floor and my recollection is he wore a ski mask throughout the performance. I always had the suspicion that Mariano, then a teacher at Berklee, was trying to hide his identity from the jazz purists. That's complete speculation on my part, but it was enough to get me hooked on him.

Helen 12 Trees I followed Mariano throughout the 70s and 80s when he moved to Europe and began playing with jazz fusion groups like Embryo, Pork Pie and Association P.C. His best late period work with German bassist Eberhard Weber in his Colours group and the last time I saw Mariano live was at a gig with Weber at Stars in Philadelphia in the late 1970s, I think. Helen 12 Trees was among his best late solo albums.

In many ways, Charlie Mariano was my introduction into jazz, albeit in a roundabout Osmosis way.

All Music Guide has a nice bio of Charlie.


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 John Diliberto (USA)


Mariano traf stets ins Herz

By Tom Gsteiger, published June 18, 2009

Das Licht der Welt erblickte Charlie Mariano 1923, also drei Jahre nach Charlie Parker und drei Jahre vor John Coltrane. Doch während Parker und Coltrane längst ins Jazzparadies abberufen wurden, trat Mariano die Reise dorthin erst am Dienstag an: In seiner Wahlheimat Köln starb er 85jährig an den Folgen eines Krebsleidens.

Klangtränen eines Romantikers

Im Verlauf einer langen, fruchtbaren Karriere schrieb Mariano nicht nur an wichtigen Kapiteln des amerikanischen und des europäischen Jazz mit, sondern profilierte sich auch als Pionier der Weltmusik.

Auf seinem Hauptinstrument, dem Altsaxophon, entwickelte er einen einzigartigen, enorm beseelten Sound. Charles Mingus, auf dessen Album «The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady» (1963) Mariano als Hauptsolist in Erscheinung tritt, sprach von «tears of sound» (Klangtränen). Mariano selbst meinte: «Dieser Sound ist die Summe meiner Lebenserfahrungen, ich habe ihn nicht bewusst entwickelt. Es freut mich, wenn man mein Spiel mit Begriffen wie Wärme und Liebe in Verbindung bringt.»

Das erste grosse Vorbild Marianos war Johnny Hodges. Später empfing Mariano prägende Impulse von Parker und Coltrane, aber auch die Rückbesinnung auf die eigenen Wurzeln wurde für den Spross einer italienischen Auswandererfamilie wichtig. «Ich wurde in Amerika geboren, ich wollte amerikanisch sein, alle meine musikalischen Idole waren schwarz. Dann realisierte ich, dass ich einen anderen Background habe.

Meine Eltern hörten nicht Jazz, sondern Caruso», sagte mir Mariano vor zwei Jahren in einem Interview. In dieser Erkenntnis ist wohl einer der Gründe für Marianos undogmatische Offenheit zu suchen - eine Offenheit, die ihn für die gewinnbringende Zusammenarbeit mit Musikern aus unterschiedlichen Kulturen prädestinierte.

Fusionen und Wurzeln

Ende der 60er-Jahre hörte Mariano in Malaysia zum ersten Mal südindische Musik, später folgten Studienaufenthalte in Indien, wo ein enger und herzlicher Kontakt zum Karnataka College of Percussion entstand. Ab den 70er-Jahren nahm Mariano eine herausragende Position in der europäischen Jazzszene ein. Mit seinem im Kern romantisch geprägten Spiel hatte er massgeblichen Anteil am Erfolg von Fusions-Gruppen wie Eberhard Webers Colors oder Pork Pie (mit Jasper Van't Hof und Philip Catherine)und war auch an Alben etwa von Herbert Grönemeyer oder Konstantin Wecker beteiligt.

Seit einiger Zeit besann sich Mariano vermehrt auf seine Jazzwurzeln. Zu einem grossen Erfolg wurde das Album «Deep in a Dream», auf dem er Balladen aus dem «Great American Songbook» so sehnsuchtsvoll interpretiert, dass es einem schier das Herz zerreisst. Mariano sagte dazu: «Obwohl ich diese Stücke in letzter Zeit nicht mehr so häufig spiele, sind sie ein Teil von mir, sie haben auch einen gewissen sentimentalen Wert für mich.»


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Tagblatt and Tom Gsteiger (Switzerland)


Charlie Mariano

By Ronan Guilfoyle, published June 16, 2009

I just heard that the great Charlie Mariano passed away, at age 86. I played with Charlie many times over the past 15 years, always in the company of Indian musicians, particularly the Karnataka College of Percussion (KCP). Charlie was an extraordinary man, a dyed-in-the-wool bebopper who played with Mingus and McCoy Tyner, but who moved to Europe and spent extensive periods in India studying Indian music, learning the Nadhaswaram, and meditating. Despite the strong Indian links, in company he retained the persona of a jazzer, with an easy Boston drawl and a typically subversive jazz wit. In fact he was an incredible source of good jokes, with an endless supply of new ones. When I first met him he was already 71 years of age, but could sit in the lotus position for hours and only a couple years ago, i also remember him bounding up five flights of stairs in a typically steep Dutch apartment, leaving me gasping in his wake! Other things I remember about him was that he was a stickler for punctuality and had the most incredible collection of colourful socks I've ever seen.

We always played Indian music together, but one time at a soundcheck in the Bimhuis we played 'You Stepped Out of a Dream' together - the only time i got to play any jazz with him, and what a pleasure it was to play with someone with that kind of great swinging phrasing.

He was a funny, gentle and above all nice man - may he rest in peace.

You can see Charlie in action with the KCP, from only two years ago here.


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Ronan Guilfoyle (Ireland)


Charlie Mariano - a remembrance

By Patrick Hinely, published August 6, 2009 (for JJA Jazz Notes)

Charlie Mariano died June 16 in Cologne, where he had lived for 30+ years, at age 85, of cancer, peacefully, it is said, at a hospice.

There was no mention of his passing in the New York Times; perhaps the coverage provided by their subsidiary in Mariano's home town, the Boston Globe, was deemed sufficient. In any case, New York City was seldom his scene; he was more a citizen of the global village than of Greenwich Village. Initial onset of Mariano's multicultural explorations predated even Don Cherry's, and both connected more - and different - dots in evolving what we now call world music than any other American jazz players.

There is a site, charliemarianotribute.de, which - blessedly, in English - includes a comprehensive discography, biography and much more, to which I refer the reader for such things, but I cannot resist mentioning Mariano's first professional gig: age 18, for $19 a week, at Izzy Ort's bar and dance hall in what was then known as Boston's combat zone.

He was a member of that vanishing generation which fell in love with swing before there was bop, mastered both, and attained that ability to play both inside and outside. Among saxophonists, he was one of the few who could speak with equal authority to the music of Charlie Parker or Evan Parker. Mariano knew there was something out there, beyond science.

While Mariano's prolific recordings are well enumerated in that online discography, a few obscurities which are hard to find but worth the search merit more mention here:

OSMOSIS, on RCA, from 1970, the only album by that Bostonian jazz-rock septet, which has aged surprisingly well for this sort of thing. In their day, they were openers for Frank Zappa and Miles Davis, which well indicates their intent. Brit prog-rock later trod similar ground. (CD reissue on Synton, of unspecified Euro-origin)

MAGIC MANSIONS, Mike Nock quartet, 1977, on Laurie. One of his few recordings in New York City, and one of his best. Nock still plays some of the tunes Mariano brought to those sessions. Their piano and soprano sax duet opening for "Everglad" is about as close to perfection as mortals can get. (LP only)

OCTOBER, a sextet date from 1977, on Contemp (also licensed by Inner City), which was his first album as a European bandleader, and also auspiciously introduced Trilok Gurtu to the west. (LP only)

TEA FOR FOUR, a 1980 quartet with Edward Vesala, Arild Andersen and Pork Pie founder Jasper Van't Hof, on the Leo (Finland, not UK) label. Their playing field was level but by no means flat. Projects like this made much of what was going on in the US at the time seem even less interesting. (LP only)

ONE NIGHT IN '88, PAS DE TROIS and LIVE IN CONCERT - featuring the trio of Mariano with pianist Wolfgang Dauner and bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi, all on Mood. While the Pork Pie troika lasted a lot longer, this grouping of peers inspired a different, deeper digging on all parts, often enough pretty, but always beautiful.

ADAGIO - his 1993 trio, on Lipstick, featuring renderings of classical themes from Albinoni to Villa-Lobos, as well as Beethoven, Chopin and Dvorak, among others. Steve Swallow says hearing those still brings tears to his and Carla Bley's eyes.



It was my good fortune to cross paths with Mariano several times over the years, and thrice he generously humored me as I attempted to commit portraiture. Herewith five chosen Marianographs:

©1979, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®
©1979, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®

1979: Colours band photo, Cellar Door, Washington, DC: (l-r) Rainer Brueninghaus, Charlie Mariano, bandleader Eberhard Weber and John Marshall. This impromptu team pic on the edge of nightfall ended up gracing the back of their final album,
LITTLE MOVEMENTS, on ECM.

©1983, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®
©1983, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®

1983: portrait, on the Harvard campus, Cambridge MA. While Charlie always seemed comfortable in his own skin no matter where we were, this was one of his childhood stomping grounds - his dad, after immigrating from Italy, worked for many years at Harvard, as a cook. Previously unpublished.

©1995, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®
©1995, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®

1995: portrait, in his music room, Cologne. Despite an interval of 12 years, he greeted me warmly during my first visit to his home. I had brought him a sheet of the new US postage stamps featuring jazz artists, the first sight of which brought a grin to his face. As he pointed to the image of Mingus, he voiced his disbelief that more than three decades had passed since they'd worked together. Previously unpublished.

©1998, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®
©1998, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®

1998: snapshot, at the request of both, with Albert Mangelsdorff, backstage, JazzFest Berlin. Artistic Director Mangelsdorff had dropped by to see his long-time friend and cohort at the same time I happened to be passing through, and they struck this pose, unprompted, while they asked me to document the moment.

©2008, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®
©2008, Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®

2008: portrait, at his kitchen table, Cologne. Though I can never know how he really felt, while Charlie seemed a bit wistful that he could no longer play as much or as long as he liked, he also seemed basically at peace with the world. I think he took satisfaction in knowing he had not only done a lot of innovative and interesting things, but had done them well. This was the very last photo I took of him. It will appear in the booklet for THE GREAT CONCERT, forthcoming on ENJA.

Thorsten Klentze remembering Charlie Mariano

Thorsten Klentze © Thomas Hönisch
T. Klentze
© Thomas Hönisch

I first saw Charlie Mariano in the mid-1970s in a concert at ONKEL PÖ in Hamburg with the polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert. I was highly impressed by the passion with which they created contemporary music on this particular — and for me very special — evening. As a classical trained European full of enthusiasm for the protest era of folk and rock music, this experience was to have a far-reaching effect.

My musical tastes changed in subsequent years, and it was always Charlie Mariano who gave me fresh inspiration with his recordings and concerts.

Whether he was playing with Eberhard Weber's group "COLORS", in Toto Blanke's "ELECTRIC CIRCUS", Wolfgang Dauner's "UNITED JAZZ + ROCK ENSEMBLE", or in what for me was his most interesting formation "PORK PIE" with Jasper van't Hof and my guitar "hero" Philip Catherine, it was always Charlie Mariano who with his fragile, emotional and unmistakable sound (his "Tears of Sounds") moved me deeply.

The performances of this modest, human and selfless artist are always of the highest musical standard. Without his being aware of it, he became my musical sponsor and inspired me with his enthusiasm to persist in my endeavours and find my own way.

In the 90th, I sought new musical ideas with the help of Marika Falk and Jost H. Hecker, and in 1995 I asked Charlie to record the CD "TIGRIB" with us.

In the studio it was very cordial and uncomplicated, and we recorded "TIGRIB" almost in one day. There was only one piece left for the next morning, and I remember, that Charlie complained about pain in the small of his back. Despite, he played brilliant — but this were the first symptoms of his cancer.

In 1999 we had the opportunity to record the music again "live" (with a few additional pieces). This time I was able to present the music in a version with two wind players, the multi-instrumentalist Roger Jannotta and Charlie Mariano. The result is the CD "MARIANO". In 1996 I wrote the title piece "MARIANO" to thank that outstanding musician, my secret sponsor Charlie Mariano.

In the following years we had several concerts together, as far as Charlie's physical conditions allowed it. In 2003 we had a small tour together and one of the concerts was recorded and filmed on the DVD "PRÄLUDIUM".

I was always fascinated how dynamic and openminded Charlie was – for instance: On his 80th anniversary he started a 30 days tour, without a day off and everyday with a different group. This is admirable, and I wish to have a condition like that, when I'm at his age.

Charlie was very open to my music and with his sensitive playing, he enhanced it in his own personal way. I'm very grateful that I have met him, that we recorded together and that he enriched my music with his beautiful sound and brilliant idears.


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Thorsten Klentze (Germany)


Thorsten Klentze's recordings with Charlie Mariano:

  • Thorsten Klentze Quartet: Tigrib (1995)
  • Thorsten Klentze & Friends: Mariano (1999)
  • Thorsten Klentze Quintet feat. Charlie Mariano: Präludium (DVD, 2003)

Der Kosmopolit

By Reiner Kobe, published June 17, 2009

Sein Ton war vibrierend, leicht und beweglich, von melodischer Wärme geprägt. Im Heer namhafter Altsaxofonisten war Charlie Mariano stets eindeutig auszumachen. "Ich kenne keinen Saxofonisten, der die Stimmung einer Melodie so bewegend ausbreiten konnte", meinte anerkennend Jasper van't Hof, der oft mit Mariano tourte. Gestern ist der markante, weißhaarige Instrumentalist, der häufig auch am Bodensee konzertierte, 85-jährig in seiner langjährigen Wahlheimat Köln nach langer Krankheit gestorben. ...

Please click the link below to read the full article.
Ein kosmopolitischer Musiker
published June 17, 2009 by badische-zeitung.de


"…into the wild!"
Hommage an Charlie Mariano

By Michael Lohmann, published June 28, 2009

"Sein warmer Ton ließ niemanden unberührt", schrieb der Spiegel in seinem Nachruf auf Charlie Mariano. Und genau hier liegt das Geheimnis dieses großen Musikers: es ist sein Ton voller Seele, der ihn von den vielen Jazz-Saxophonisten auf diesem Globus unterscheidet. Tatsächlich gibt es nur wenige Musiker, die bloß einen Ton zu spielen brauchen und man weiß: Ja, das ist Charlie Parker oder Miles Davis — oder eben Charlie Mariano. Dank sei der Osho Times lernte ich Charlie Mariano vor neun Jahren kennen. Zuvor hatte ich schon seine Frau Dorothee, über ihr Leben und ihre Malerei interviewt. Mit beiden verbindet mich seither eine herzliche Freundschaft. In unserem Interview erzählte mir Charlie damals, als junger Mann — Mitte der vierziger Jahre — habe er wie Charlie Parker klingen wollen. "And then I realized that I never gonna sound like Charlie Parker, because I am not Charlie Parker." Und dann erschallte das typische Mariano-Lachen, tief aus dem Bauch heraus. "We are all human beings and we are all individuals — each one of us is unique. Try to be what you are!" Schon früh hat Charlie also verstanden, dass es in der Musik vor allem um eines geht: seinen ganz eigenen Ton zu finden und diesen zum Ausdruck bringen. Ihm ist das zweifellos gelungen und so ist es kein Wunder, dass ihn sowohl große Jazzmusiker wie Charles Mingus, McCoy Tyner oder Elvin Jones, als auch berühmte Rockmusiker wie Herbert Grönemeyer ins Studio holten.

Ein paar Wochen nach unserem Interview rief Charlie mich an und fragte, ob ich bei ihm Nadaswaram lernen wollte. Wow, Charlie Mariano will mich unterrichten! Ich war natürlich auf Wolke Sieben, denn Charlie war für mich nicht irgendwer. Die Platten, die er in den siebziger Jahren zusammen mit Jasper van't Hof, Philip Catherine und Eberhard Weber einspielte, gehörten zum Soundtrack meiner Schulzeit. Das war die Musik, die ich mit meinen Freunden hörte und nicht nur hörte, — nein, über jede Platte wurde ausführlich diskutiert. 1971 erlebte ich Charlie Mariano zum ersten Mal live: Mein Musiklehrer Fritz hatte mich mit in die Berliner Jazzgalerie genommen und dort spielte ein gut aussehender, grau mähniger Mann eine Musik, die mir ziemlich fremd vorkam. Dass ich 30 Jahre später bei eben diesem Mann ein und ausgehen würde, hätte ich nie zu hoffen gewagt. Natürlich war ich vor meiner ersten Stunde ziemlich aufgeregt, aber bei Charlie, einem Mann ohne alle Allüren und Starposen, verfloss meine Nervosität schnell. Aber exakt musste ich schon spielen, sonst schüttelte er sein weises Haupt. Musik war für Charlie eine Sache, die er sehr genau nahm. Nur ein bisschen auf indischen Skalen rumklimpern und das dann Weltmusik nennen - das war seine Sache nicht. Das war fooling around und da verzog der Meister sein Gesicht.

Charlies Liebe zu Indien entstand letztlich durch den mächtigen Sound der Nadaswaram. Den vernahm er zum ersten Mal 1967 in einem Hindu-Tempel in Malaysia. Der Klang dieses südindischen Holzblasinstruments, einer Art überdimensionierter Oboe, faszinierte ihn zutiefst. "Bringt mich dahin, ich muss sehen, woher dieser Sound kommt", erzählte er später in seiner von Lothar Lewien geschriebenen Biographie. Der Mann, der es spielte, war der indische Tempelmusiker Muthaiah. Bei ihm nahm Charlie Unterricht und ihn besuchte er später (1973) in seinem Dorf in Südindien, wo er für ein halbes Jahr Teil von Muthaiahs Familie wurde. Damals war Charlie bereits 50 Jahre alt und doch war er jung genug, sich auf die indische Kultur einzulassen und mit einer indischen Familie in einem Haus ohne Strom und fließend Wasser zu leben. In Lothar Lewiens Biographie erzählte er: "Wann immer die Familie, fast alle waren ja Tempelmusiker, zum Tempel gingen, nahmen sie mich mit. Ich hatte ansonsten einen strengen, absolut geregelten Tagesablauf. Jeden Tag bekam ich morgens um 6 Uhr 30 meine erste Lektion. Die zweite um 11 Uhr 30 und die letzte abends um 6 Uhr 30. Vormittags übte ich zusammen mit Muthaiah neue Lieder und indische Skalen, nachmittags übte ich allein bis zu meiner Abendlektion. Wir gingen alle bei Sonnenuntergang zu Bett. Und die Sonne ging ziemlich früh unter. Aber ich war glücklich, mit mir und der Welt in Thiruvarankulum zufrieden."

Als Charlie zurück nach Europa kam, wo er sich in den siebziger Jahren niederließ, war seine Musik um die indische Erfahrung bereichert. Und als er dann ab 1980 zusammen mit den Musikern der Karnataka School of Percussion aus Bangalore Platten produzierte, konnte es zu einer wirklichen Fusion westlicher und indischer Musik kommen. Die wurde möglich, weil Charlie so tief in die indische Kultur eingetaucht war.

Später unterrichtete mich Charlie dann auch auf dem Saxophon. Ich spielte ihm eine Improvisation über den Jazz-Standard Body and Soul vor und er sagte: "It's okay, aber warum spielst du eigentlich nie die verminderte None im ersten Takt? Die gibt dem ganzen Stück doch erst seine besondere Farbe…" Die Stunden bei Charlie machten mir klar, wie viel disziplinierte Arbeit in seinem Spiel steckte. Was da so leicht und selbstverständlich aus seinem Horn kam, daran hatte er Jahre und Jahrzehnte gefeilt. Er hatte seinen Diamanten geschliffen und poliert.

Aber nie hat er mich entmutigt! Und wenn ich Fortschritte machte, gab es sogar Lob. Natürlich fragte ich nach meiner ersten Stunde, wie viel er für den Unterricht nehme. "Are you kidding?" war seine Antwort und schon wieder ertönte sein dröhnendes Lachen.

Charlie war kein Mann großer Worte — Gespräche, zumal über Spiritualität, interessierten ihn nicht. Er spielte lieber Karten, was er sehr gerne und leidenschaftlich tat. Damals bei unserem Interview fragte ich ihn nach der Verbindung von Spiritualität und Musik. In Bezug auf John McLaughlin sagte er: "Natürlich ist John McLaughlin mit Shakti eine sehr gute Verbindung mit der indischen Musik gelungen. Aber die Verbindung ist gelungen, weil John ein fantastischer Musiker ist und nicht, weil er so spirituell ist." Das Marketing-Gerede von "den spirituellen Musikern" mochte er überhaupt nicht — für ihn war Musik entweder gut oder sie war es nicht. Auch da war er wohltuend "down to earth". "Zahme Vögel singen von Freiheit. Wilde Vögel fliegen!", heißt es in dem Sprichwort. Und genauso gibt es Menschen, die die Spiritualität besingen und andere, die einfach spirituell sind. Zu denen gehörte Charlie.

Welch tiefe, innere Kraft er besaß, zeigte sich gerade auch in seinem Sterben. Klar und fokussiert wie in seiner Musik ging Charlie auch auf seine letzte Reise. In den letzten Jahren hatte sich sein Gesundheitszustand zunehmend verschlechtert. Jetzt war er wirklich auf die Hilfe seiner Freunde und vor allem auf die von Dorothee angewiesen. Irgendwann wurde ihm klar, dass er nicht wieder gesund werden würde. Natürlich war es ein langer Prozess, bis er schließlich klar erkennen konnte, dass er sterben würde. Anfang Juni kam er in das Mildred Scheel Haus — dem Zentrum für Palliativmedizin in Köln. Pallium stammt aus dem Lateinischen und bedeutet "der schützende Mantel". Diesem Namen machte das Mildred Scheel Haus alle Ehre. Charlie wurde medikamentös so eingestellt, dass er keine Schmerzen erleiden musste. Von den Schwestern und Ärzten, von Dorothee und seinen Freunden wurde er liebevoll betreut. Meistens dämmerte er vor sich hin und beteiligte sich nicht mehr an unseren Gesprächen, aber er genoss es, Freunde um sich herum zu wissen. Wenige Tage vor seinem Tod richtete er sich plötzlich auf und sagte: "Wow… into the wild!" Seine Augen leuchteten. Da war keine Angst. Er war jetzt wohl bereit, mutig und auch neugierig in das unbekannte Land zu gehen, so wie er auch in seinem Leben immer wieder den Mut gehabt hatte, auf sichere Musikerstellen (an der Berkeley School of Music oder in der Big Band von Stan Kenton) zu verzichten, um sich in Malyasia, Indien oder Europa in ungewisse Abenteuer zu stürzen. Und wenn der Tod dem Menschen zeigt, was er ist — wie der Dichter Hebbel einmal schrieb — dann zeigte sich hier eine große Seele. Es war beeindruckend zu sehen, dass Charlie seine letzten Schritte ohne Angst gehen konnte. Natürlich bekam er Morphium gegen die Schmerzen, aber dennoch war er bis einen Tag vor seinem Tod klar bei Bewusstsein, erkannte und begrüßte jeden. Als ihm an einem dieser letzten Tage übel wurde, fragte ihn Schwester Claudia: "I wonder what made you sick", da sagte er mit einem Lächeln auf den Lippen: "Well, I am dying." "When you can say this with a smiling face then it's allright with me," gab die Schwester zurück. Charlie erinnerte sich anschließend, wie sein Schwager ihm kurz vor dessen Tod gesagt habe: "It's the last round." Dass jemand das so klar formulieren konnte, hatte ihn beeindruckt. Aber genau diese Klarheit hatte Charlie nun auch gewonnen und das gab seinem Abschied eine beeindruckende Würde. Bis zuletzt freute sich Charlie über das Leben in seinem Zimmer und die liebevolle Zuwendung von Dorothee. Sterben braucht seine Zeit, genauso wie Geborenwerden. Eines Tages, als ich mich von ihm mit "See you tomorrow!", verabschiedete, blickte er mir fest in die Augen und sagte: "I don't think so!" Ich war verunsichert und fragte mich, ob er tatsächlich so ein weiser, alter Indianer sei, der genau weiß, wann er gehen muss. Tatsächlich war Charlie am nächsten Tag noch da, aber vier Tage später — am 16. Juni um kurz vor halb zwölf — ist er gegangen. Auf seinem Gesicht lag ein tiefer Frieden.


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Michael Lohmann (Germany)
This obituary will be published in the July issue of Osho Times.


Charlie Mariano

By André Nendza, published June 17, 2009

Habe heute erfahren, das Charlie Mariano mit 85 Jahren gestorben ist. Ein wunderbarer, vielfältiger Musiker mit einer gelebten eigenen Stimme und ein feiner, bescheidener Mensch mit einem guten Sinn für Humor (Charlies Antwort auf meine Erwähnung des Akkordes "F sharp major seven nine, sharp eleven" als Improvisationgrundlage: "that's a long one!"). Ich hatte bei einigen Aufnahmen und einer Reihe von Konzerten die fantastische Gelegenheit, mit ihm zu spielen. Schon das Stimmen des Instruments war bei Charlie pure Musik. Weise, aber niemals alt, hatte er große Freude auch mit jungen Musikern zu arbeiten. Er liebte musikalische Herausforderungen und konnte auch in ungewohnter Umgebung seine Identität einbringen. Bei aller freundlicher Gelassenheit wusste er musikalisch genau, was er wollte und zögerte bisweilen nicht, bestimmte Klangvorstellungen nachdrücklich ein zu fordern. Mit Charlie verbinde ich auch eine bestimmte Haltung zur Musik, die stark mit der Suche nach eigenen Wegen verbunden ist. Gepaart mit einem Sound, der immer in Verbindung zu der großen Tradition des Jazz stand. Charlie Mariano hat viel an feinstem Klang hinterlassen und doch ist es traurig, ihn nicht mehr in dieser Welt spielend zu erleben. Aber vielleicht braucht Mingus in der größten aller Jazzbands doch wieder Charlies "tears of sound".


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 André Nendza (Germany)


André Nendza's recordings with Charlie Mariano:


Pippo Pollina ricorda Charlie Mariano

QUANDO GLI ANGELI SE NE VANNO

By Pippo Pollina, published June 17, 2009

Bene...io non saro' ricordato fra quelli che hanno condiviso i momenti piu' importanti della sua traiettoria musicale. Nè saro' annoverato fra i nomi che i giornali stanno riportando sulle poche righe dedicate al grande musicista italo americano scomparso ieri all'età di quasi 86 anni Charlie Mariano. Ma questo è ovviamente irrilevante.
Condivise il palco e le venture insieme a gente come Charlie Mingus oppure Charlie Parker, mica un sassofonista di periferia questo ex abruzzese nato a Boston.
Eppure a partire dal 1993 le nostre strade si incrociarono.E di strada insieme ne abbiamo percorsa tantissima. In quell'anno ben 100 concerti sui palchi di Germania, Austria e Svizzera a fare parte di quel grande circo che era lo spettacolo UFERLOS del cantautore Konstantin Wecker.
E mentre nel grande e lussuoso bus che ci portava da una città ad un'altra molti di noi ( ma non io ) rimediavano una sbronza per sopportare lo stress di un tour senza soste, io e Charlie giocavamo a carte un gioco che lui mi insegno' e di cui era maestro : Oh shit.
Non amava perdere Charlie...e quando accadeva..., di rado debbo dire, si incacchiava non poco. Mi raccontava del grande jazz e mi diceva che questa parola non vuol dire nulla e che tutto per lui era Jazz... provo' a insegnarmi il sassofono, ma...rinuncio' ben presto... ed io pure.
Poi un anno dopo lo chiamai a suonare nel mio CD " Dodici lettere d'amore ".
Lui arrivo', puntuale e professionale come sempre. Incanto' tutti su tre brani di quel disco con degli assoli inconfondibili → YouTube.
E quando nel 1997, per i miei primissimi concerti italiani gli chiesi di partecipare lui accetto' senza remore. Quell'uomo di 74 anni... che aveva suonato con Parker e Mingus, per dirne solo due.
Viaggiava con noi , nel minibus , in una estate afosa e breve.
Mai una lamentela, mai un rimbrotto anche se dovendo imparare qualche brano dei suoi, jazz o non jazz , per me neofita del pianoforte fu un'impresa.
Suonammo insieme l'ultma volta il 1 giugno del 2007 per la tv tedesca e il suo assolo sulla mia canzone Terra non lo dimentichero' mai (al seguente link con Wecker e Mariano nel 1993 → YouTube).
Ora ha salutato questo pianeta, che tanto aveva girato, e da qualche parte mi sta scorgendo, lo so...con il sassofono o le carte in mano... per ingannare il tempo.
Ciao Charlie.
Di cuore
Pippo


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Pippo Pollina (Italy)


Pippo Pollina's recordings with Charlie Mariano:

  • Konstantin Wecker: Uferlos → 1992
  • Pippo Pollina: Dodici lettere d'amore → 1995

Remembering Charles Mariano (1923-2009)

By Thierry Quénum, published June 22, 2009

Saxophonist Charles Mariano, who passed away in Germany last week at age 85, was one of the most expansive players of his generation. Yet American jazz fans saw little of this artist's breadth and depth, since much of the finest and most creative work of this Boston-born altoist took place overseas. Jazz.com's Paris-based contributor Thierry Quénum experienced this music up close, and spent time with Mariano on a number of occasions. He shares his thoughts and recollections below. T.G.


Lots of American jazz musician have settled in Europe for a shorter or longer time over the past decades, beginning with Sidney Bechet and Kenny Clarke in the fifties, on to Ed Thigpen, Chet Baker, or more recently Leon Parker.

Charlie Mariano, who just died age 85 in Cologne, Germany — where he had settled more than 30 years ago — was a good example of a musician whose crossing of the Atlantic was coupled with an opening up to the music by the world at large. Meanwhile, he maintained his ability to play the jazz styles he'd learned as a young man, and continued developing as a master improviser and balladeer. He thus became an example and a favorite partner for the younger European musicians he often played with.

Having had the privilege of hearing Charlie Mariano a number of times on stage and in the recording studio and having talked with him on several occasions backstage and in various other places, I though the best eulogy I could do for him was to share that experience with jazz amateurs who might have lost track with this fine stylist of the alto saxophone, and exquisite human being.

Most jazz buffs know about Mariano's stint with the Kenton band, where he replaced Lee Konitz in 1953. Ironically, Mariano told me that he didn't like this orchestra — nor did Konitz who, by the way was, to become his 'almost neighbor' in Cologne a few decades later; as an improviser, Mariano was never much interested in playing with big bands at large. Unlike lots of his Kenton band mates, he didn't care much either for the relaxed Californian atmosphere, and soon went back to his native Boston after Kenton. There he studied, then taught at the Berklee College of Music (Richie Beirach kept reminding him he'd been his student, Charlie told me), and in the fifties, except for his good friend Frank Rosolino, Mariano always felt closer to Bostonians — like Jaki Byard, Herb Pomeroy, Dick Twardzik, Alan Dawson or Quincy Jones — than with the West Coast players.

Neither was he as close to Bird as most altoists of his generation were. Mariano's parents and elder sister were Italian-born. They listened to a lot of opera and Neapolitan songs and his sister became a classical pianist. All this made Mariano conscious of his specific cultural background and of his interest for lyrical playing rather than for Parker-like virtuosity. So, when he settled for a time in Japan with then wife pianist-arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi, Mariano got more interested in composing melodies and learning the flute than in tackling complex big band music.

His return to the US in the early sixties saw him, among others, in two unusual situations. The first one was with Charles Mingus, with whom he recorded three times. Mariano's recollection of the reputedly often irate bassist and leader is paradoxically that of a man who was always nice to him and defended him when people asked why he'd hired a white musician. Second, though he'd met Coltrane several times, admired him and was influenced by him, Mariano admits that he was scared to death when Elvin Jones hired him in 65 to record Dear John C. for Impulse.

But for Mariano the big turn of the sixties was his trip to Malaysia which triggered his interest in South-Eastern and Indian music, a subject that he studied passionately for years. In the last years of his life, Charlie still went to India for a couple of months each winter, to play and study. Avowedly a non-spiritual musician, unlike Coltrane, Mariano saw in this type of music a brand new field of exploration for his interests in melody and rhythm, and an occasion to play new instruments like the nagaswaram, which he'd often used on future recordings, or to perform with ensembles like the Indian Karnataka College of Percussion.

In the early seventies, when he decided to come to Europe — where he'd heard there were more playing opportunities than in Boston — he knew few musicians there. Still he soon became familiar with the likes of German bass player Eberhard Weber and Italian drummer Aldo Romano as well as Belgian guitarist Philippe Catherine and Belgian keyboardist Jasper Van't Hof, with whom he played and recorded until the last years of his life. In Europe he also met Lebanese oud player Rabih Abou Khalil, with whose international band he played, recorded and toured from the mid eighties onward.

Over the course of his 30 some years in Europe, Mariano evolved into one of the most broadly open musician you could meet both sides of the Atlantic. You could hear him in India with young jazz musicians like guitarist Hamid Heri, eager to mix the US tradition with their own non-harmonic roots or with traditional Algerian players like the Smahi brothers. You could hear him in Europe with musicians hardly younger than him such as Swiss drummer Daniel Humair, as well as with other ones who could be his grandsons like French pianist Jean-Christophe Cholet, German bass player Dieter Ilg, or Hungarian drummer Elemér Balàzs, playing standards or original compositions. You could hear him in quartet with fellow US pianist Bob Degen, or with seasoned arranger Vince Mendoza, improvising on Ravel melodies scored for a jazz orchestra.

What's more, Mariano never sounded his age, and never indulged into nostalgia about any type of "glorious past." When asked about the decline in the tradition of playing standards, which he mastered so well, he answered me : "It's not that important to me. The standards used to be a vehicle for musicians to communicate during jam sessions. Today we play mostly original compositions and that's very challenging. All this remains music, anyway." The very words of an old wise man with a youthful vision of the art he'd practiced for so long, on four continents.


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 The Jazz.com blog and Thierry Quénum (USA)


A Tribute to Charlie Mariano

By Ramesh Shotham

The world has witnessed the comings and goings of great artists who have lived and created amongst us and shown us the way. Every once in a while some of us are blessed to be touched personally by one of these unique human beings. Charlie Mariano, who passed away on the 16th of June, 2009 at the age of 85, was not only a great jazz musician, but went beyond his chosen genre to study the intricacies of Indian music during the early seventies. A couple of years later he based himself in Europe and his music during the next three decades became so influential that he is acknowledged by musicians and critics alike to be the father of World Music.

I remember my first meeting with Charlie Mariano in 1976 as if it happened just yesterday. He was invited by Jazz India to come to Bombay and perform four concerts. One of my friends from Jazz India called me up and told me that I should come (I was based in Bangalore around that time), and bring along my South Indian drum, the Tavil. He said Charlie would be surely playing his newly acquired South Indian instrument, the Nadaswaram, and that he'd be very interested in having me in the group. It turned out exactly like that because Charlie straightaway invited me during the first rehearsal with the local rhythm section, to sit in and play. It was an incredible experience for me because Charlie made all of us feel relaxed and comfortable enough to be able to play tunes he had brought with him, tunes we had never heard before! I spent the whole week in Bombay visiting Charlie at his hotel, talking about jazz and Indian music, and basically picking his brains to glean as much information as possible.

When Charlie left Bombay he said, 'Come to Europe man, that's where its all happening.' I took his advice literally and in December 1980, after a 3 month tour of the Eastern European countries with Sangam (then known as the Jazz Yatra Septet), I met Charlie again in Munich, playing live at a jazz club with his quartet. At that point in time Charlie was living in Munich and I used to visit him whenever he happened to be in town. Charlie, I discovered, loved card games, puzzles, word games and it was fun to spend hours on the road during later tours with him keeping ourselves thus occupied to beat the monotony of daily travel. He also loved to read, and whenever we met or were on the road, passed on the paperbacks he had read to me. Over the years I've inherited hundreds of books from him.

Charlie Mariano became a mentor to me and a host of my colleagues. He was like an elder statesman for a couple of generations of young musicians in Europe. Listening to Charlie talking about his years in the Stan Kenton Band, his work with Mingus, his years at the Berklee College of Music, his life in Japan with Toshiko Akiyoshi, was like experiencing jazz history first hand. Charlie also instilled in us the importance of being disciplined, of being punctual, and coming to rehearsals prepared. He had little patience with people who turned up late. Since he played with a host of different musicians, he always set a great example by coming prepared with the music. He placed great importance on the music being properly notated. But he also showed great patience when we sometimes had no written music and he had to write or transpose his own part by ear. A lot of tunes of groups like the Karnataka College of Percussion, Bhavani, Madras Special were notated originally by Charlie. I still have a collection of his hand-written sheets in my book!

Charlie's work in Europe is well documented and he has left an incredible store of recorded music. He was a regular member of legendary groups such as the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble, Colours, Pork Pie, his collaborations with Jasper van't Hof and Philip Catherine, etc. He also lead his own groups, but I think in later years he was more happy playing in other people's bands. With the Karnataka College of Percussion he recorded the highly acclaimed CD 'Jyothi' on the ECM label which was the beginning of over a quarter century of touring and recording with this formation. On the last recording Charlie made with the KCP5 called 'Many Ways', recorded in Bangalore, the voice and saxophone blend so closely in the unison passages, that sometimes one has the impression that just a single instrument is playing!

Charlie Mariano was quite at home in India. He in fact rented a small apartment in Bangalore close to the Karnataka College of Percussion, and spent a couple of winter months there between 2004-2006. Charlie liked sitting in on music lessons conducted by Ramamani or T.A.S. Mani and interacted with the young students. He played a couple of traditional concerts with us and the Bangalore audience loved every minute of them. He loved eating South Indian breakfasts and I've shared many a Masala Dosa or Idli sambar with him! He also came a couple of times to visit my family in Madras and never ceased to praise my mother's fish curry! But he could cook well himself and taught me several great Italian recipes.

Charlie Mariano left behind a great legacy and I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have been part of his musical journey from the 1980s through to 2009. Above all, he taught me professionalism, which has helped me enormously in my pursuit of becoming a successful freelance musician. For him, being a fine musician was just one of the qualities, the others being professionalism, punctuality and very importantly, a well-groomed appearance. His love for unusual and colourful clothes is legendary. He took pride in being hip and up-to-date. It was the same with technology. Charlie always had the latest electronic gadget as soon as it hit the market. I've seen him with the earliest digital recorders, DAT machines, Mini-disc, several different Macs, and most recently, the iPhone!

We, his colleagues and fans, will miss him and his aura on stage. But he'll live on through his music and his spirit will continue to inspire us. Recently I recorded a piece with Mike Herting which he dedicated to Charlie Mariano called, 'May You Smile Upon Us'. I'm sure he is doing exactly that wherever he is.


Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Ramesh Shotham (Germany)


Ramesh Shotham's recordings with Charlie Mariano:

  • Embryo: Live 1986 Theaterfabrik, Munich → 1986
  • Rabih Abou-Khalil: Between Dusk And Dawn → 1986
  • Charlie Mariano & KCP: Live → 1989
  • Rabih Abou-Khalil: Blue Camel → 1992
  • Bhavani: Open Hand → 1993
  • Mariano & Friends: Seventy → 1993
  • Charlie Mariano's Nassim → 1997
  • Ramesh Shotham: Madras Special → 2001
  • KCP 5: Many Ways → 2005
  • Charlie Mariano, Johannes Schenk & Ramesh Shotham: The Tamarind Tree → 2007

© hepcat1950 TOP last update: April 7, 2011