Tuesday, 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