The innovative saxophonist and reeds player Charlie Mariano passed away yesterday aged 85 in the German city of Cologne.
Born in Boston, he earned his stripes playing in groups led by Stan Kenton, Shelly Manne, and later with Charles Mingus – performing on the classic album, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.
In the 1960s he travelled extensively around India and the Far East where he studied local musics and learned to play the oboe-like nagaswaram, which featured heavily in his work from the mid-1960s onwards. During the 70s Mariano became a founding member of the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble and also played with German bassist Eberhard Weber in his group Colours – performing on the acclaimed album Yellow Fields in 1975. Some of Mariano’s other key recordings include Boston All Stars in 1953, and Savannah Samurai in 1998 – showing the impressive multi-decade span of his career.
Mariano was for many years a highly respected educator at Berklee College of Music in Boston and also led his own successful ensembles, experimenting with east-meets-west fusion, of which he was a leading pioneer, and recording for the ECM label among others.