Charlie Mariano

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Charlie Mariano, 2003
Jazz on the Danube , Straubing
Charlie Mariano - Portrait by Gert Chesi, 80s

Charlie Mariano , born in Carmine Ugo Mariano , (born  November 12, 1923 in Boston , Massachusetts , †  June 16, 2009 in Cologne ) was an American jazz musician ( alto and soprano saxophone , flute , Nagaswaram , composition ). Charles Mingus called Mariano's lyrical tone on the alto saxophone "Tears of Sound", tears of joy and pain as sound. Mariano was one of the first jazz musicians to play world music .

life and work

Mariano was born as the third and youngest child of Italian immigrants from Abruzzo , his father the cook Giovanni Mariano and his mother Maria Digirronimo Mariano. He grew up with opera music, received piano lessons as a child and only switched to saxophone at the age of 17. His great role model at this time was the saxophonist Lester Young . Mariano was later impressed by the style and sound of Johnny Hodges ; Mariano called him "his first important role model". Mariano later played the soprano saxophone under the influence of John Coltrane and was one of the few saxophonists with an independent and recognizable playing characteristic on this instrument, which was not his main instrument.

Mariano began performing in professional show bands as early as 1942. From 1943 to 1945 he was drafted into the US Army, but not for front service, but only in military bands. From 1945 he studied music for three years at Berklee College of Music (then still Schillinger House) in Boston , where he also taught from 1958. In 1948 he worked with Shorty Sherock , then with Larry Clinton , Nat Pierce , with whom he made recordings from 1948, and in the band of Chubby Jackson and Bill Harris . In 1950 his first recording was released under his own name (Charlie Mariano and his Jazz group, with Herb Pomeroy , Jaki Byard ).

As early as 1952, the jazz journalist Nat Hentoff described him as "Boston's greatest musician". In 1953 he was in the band of Chubby Jackson and Bill Harris. From 1953 to 1955 he played with Stan Kenton . On the west coast he played with Shelly Manne from 1956 to 1958 and was one of the leading members of his formation Shelly Manne & His Men , for which he wrote the suite "The Gambit" (1957). In 1958/59 he went back to Boston and worked with Herb Pomeroy . In 1959 he was again with Stan Kenton for half a year. In November 1959 he married the Japanese jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi (they divorced in 1967), with whom he formed his own quartet in 1960. In 1961 and 1963 they toured in Japan, where they also lived in 1963/4. In 1964, her quartet was on a European tour. Mariano also performed with many other jazz greats such as Charlie Parker , Dizzy Gillespie and McCoy Tyner . In particular, his solos on the record of the suite-like music The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) by Charles Mingus show the expressiveness and intensity Mariano was able to develop on the alto saxophone , his main instrument.

Charlie Mariano with pork pie at the Wuppertal Opera House in the late 1970s

From 1966 to 1967 he taught members of the state radio orchestra in Malaysia on behalf of the USIA . 1967/68 he stayed in Japan. From 1971 Mariano worked mainly in Europe, where he initially settled in the Netherlands and Belgium. In 1972 he was involved in the production of the play Marat / Sade by Peter Weiss in Zurich . In 1973 he spent four months in South India to study the local music and in particular the wind instrument Nagaswaram . This has resulted in ongoing collaborations with South Indian musicians such as those of the Karnataka College of Percussion (several tours, most recently in 2005). On the one hand, he turned to rock jazz , in which he incorporated elements of South Indian music (in Embryo (from 1972) and in Jasper van't Hofs Pork Pie , from February 1974). On the other hand, he emphasized - especially in his own groups, but also in Eberhard Weber's group and in cooperation with Zbigniew Seifert  - lyrical play. In 1979 he recorded Sleep My Love with Belgian guitarists Philip Catherine and Jasper van't Hof . Mariano was also one of the founding members of the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble , the "band of band leaders". In addition to many other line-ups, also with younger musicians, he often appeared in a trio with Ali Haurand and Daniel Humair . Since his collaboration on the album Savannah Samurai (1998) with the Freiburg jazz bassist Dieter Ilg , Mariano and Ilg have maintained a chamber music jazz duo.

He has left his mark not only in pop music by participating in numerous albums (for example by Herbert Grönemeyer , Konstantin Wecker ), but also in the context of so-called world music with Rabih Abou-Khalil , with Dino Saluzzi and the dissidents . Mariano has contributed to more than 300 records and CDs.

With Toshiko Akiyoshi, he has daughter Monday Michiru , born in 1963 , a singer and actress. After Mariano had lived a nomadic life between the USA, Europe and Asia for a long time, he had lived in Cologne since 1986 with his third wife, the painter and set designer Dorothee Zippel-Mariano. In June 2009 Charlie Mariano died of cancer.

Discographic information (selection)

Recordings under your own name

  • Boston All Stars / New Sound from Boston (OJC, 1951/53)
  • Toshiko Mariano Quartet 1960
  • A Jazz Portrait of Charlie Mariano (Fresh Sound Records, 1963)
  • Charlie Mariano: Folk Soul 1967
  • Charlie Mariano: Helen 12 Trees (MPS, 1976)
  • Charlie Mariano & Karnataka College of Percussion : Jyothi (ECM, 1983)
  • Charlie Mariano Group: Plum Island ( Mood , 1985)
  • Charlie Mariano & Friends: Seventy (Intuition, 1993)
  • Savannah Samurai (Jazzline, 1998)
  • Bangalore (intuition, 1998)
  • Tango from Charlie ( Enja , 2000)
  • Deep in a Dream ( Enja , 2002)
  • Charlie Mariano: When the Sun Comes Out 2005
  • Charlie Mariano: Silver Blue 2006

Albums as co-leader

Albums as a sideman



  • Lothar Lewien: Charlie Mariano. Tears of Sound. Wanderer between the musical worlds. Hannibal Verlag, Andrä Wölker 1993, ISBN 3-85445-087-7


Web links

Commons : Charlie Mariano  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual references, footnotes

  1. Bert Noglik : “The special tone” , Deutschlandfunk , June 17, 2009
  2. ^ Charlie Mariano Tribute Biography
  3. Martin Woltersdorf: "Grenzüberreiter in Kunst und Leben" , Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , June 16, 2009