BOHP_2007-06-18 - Charlie Mariano - 6
FB: How is it different at Berklee in the 4 or 5 years you were gone? You were out with Kenton for a couple years, you went to Japan for a bit... CM: No, that was later. FB: Oh that was later. Sorry, sorry. CM: Now '58, I was there only for two semesters, '58 and '59, part of '59, and then I moved... Toshiko and I married and we moved to New York. So I was only there for two semesters, I think. FB: Was there anything you liked about teaching or didn't like? CM: Well, it was great. I was there like... when a lot of good people were there. Gary Burton was there, Mick Goodrick, John Abercrombie, Gary Mcfarland... FB: Sure. Terrific players and writers. CM: I don't remember all the names. There were a lot of really good people. It was nice to be there. Arif Mardin was there as a student. Toshiko was there. The guitar player from Hungary... FB: Gabor Szabo. CM: Gabor Szabo, exactly. FB: Oh, that reminds me. Yes, there was an international jazz festival in the fall of '58 that took place downtown at the John Hancock Hall. And Toshiko played, you were there, Gabor Szabo. There was an international program that involved musicians from around the world who were jazz players. CM: Yeah. FB: Richard Vacca asked me to ask you if that experience or that particular scene had any bearing on your international interests. CM: You know what? I don't even remember it. So, the answer to that is no it had no bearing at all. FB: So, Toshiko and Gabor and you were all on the Berklee faculty. CM: No, the both of them were not on the faculty. They were students. FB: Okay, but they were called in to play at this festival. CM: Yeah, well. Sure. FB: Okay, so there was a good student base. What was the scene like for faculty people at Berklee at the time. Was it fair minded and above board or did you guys feel like you were... CM: You know, the thing is with Berklee especially in the earlier days... I don't know how it is now, I couldn't say... but in those days, man, they hired me and let me do whatever I wanted. Of course, I was teaching not only saxophone, but I had small groups and big bands, and I was teaching harmony one or two years and theory and so on. But, they never told me what to do. They just... FB: ???. CM: Yeah. I taught whatever I wanted. FB: Okay, good. Do you have any other recollections of Berklee at that time or any other things you remember from that period? CM: Well, through the years while I was teaching there there've been some marvelous musicians go through there, you know. And so of course, you know, I remember some of these people, but it was always great. FB: Did you have any dealings or did you work with any of the good students out around town? CM: Oh, sure. Yes, I did. FB: Such as Gary or Abercrombie or people like that? CM: Yeah. Sure. Yeah. I played with a lot of them. FB: Chick Corea must have been around the scene by then. CM: You know, I've never played with Chick Corea, because I never knew him when he was coming up in Boston. I was away, and then when I came back he was gone. FB: Yeah, he didn't last too long. CM: So I never played with him. FB: Okay, let's see. In that second round when you were back from the west coast, how had the scene shifted in the Boston scene with the advent of Storyville? CM: For professional musicians it was very difficult to make a living playing. So thank God for the teaching thing because, you know, when you have like, and I'm sure it must be like that now, too, you have so many young musicians studying, and of course they all want to play too. FB: That has not changed. CM: No. I'm sure it hasn't. So it was very difficult if you wanted to play more, you know what I mean? I had to do some stupid gigs. I remember Herb and I being out in Revere some place playing in some club just to be making a living and playing. FB: And the challenge was to get a GB gig and then be able to jam at it. I guess Herb was pretty good at getting a wedding and then loosen up a little bit and start playing some stuff that would be considered a little 'out' perhaps. CM: Yeah. The nice thing about the teaching was that if I felt like I could always play with the students. That was okay. One way to keep my finger in the pie, you know. FB: And then back in town again, when you married Toshiko, there was also the musical side of things where you had a working quartet. CM: Yeah, that's right. FB: And, you did one great album on Candid around 1960 that I thought was a really a nice one. This was in New York now. CM: Yeah, this is in New York. That's right. That was with Gene Chirico who had played with Toshiko in Boston. And let me see... I don't remember who the drummer was at that time. Also, Eddie Marshall came on. Eddie Marshall from, I think, Springfield. FB: Uh huh. CM: That was a lot of fun. FB: Sure. CM: And we went to Japan the first time on tour with that group. And then I think the second time it was still with Gene Chirico but with Tutti Heath. FB: Tutti Heath! And when you played in Boston, sometimes Alan Dawson sat in. CM: Yeah, sure. Yeah, probably. I know we did one gig, Toshiko and I, with Tony Williams. FB: Swell. CM: Yeah. Before he went with Miles. FB: You were both writing equally for that band? CM: Yeah. Exactly. FB: I can't remember the Candid album really well, but I remember there was a lot of good energy there. CM: Yeah. It was fun. FB: Okay, well now we're moving on into the sixties, and... CM: I started to get some nice things going. Toshiko and I played a lot at Birdland and other places. I went with Mingus for... I was in a small group of his where Mingus wanted to play piano (laughs). And that was with Danny Richmond. And he had on bass... Milt Jackson's brother... I forgot his name. It was Richie Williams on trumpet and Booker Irwin and myself. Three horns. FB: Sextet, nice. Mingus did some great writing in those days. CM: Yeah. Absolutely. FB: Did you tour the country? CM: Well, we didn't do that many gigs, but we played in Philadelphia for a week at some club... FB: Showboat, maybe. CM: And I'll never forget that because when we went there the first day, Mingus did an interview at some radio station, and he was talking about the Philadelphia police, which he shouldn't have done. Because that night they were waiting for us. After the gig when we went to the hotel, as we pulled in front of the hotel, the police were there. 'Up against the wall!' You know, the whole thing patting us down and so on, spread your legs, and then the next day they were waiting at the club for us. FB: A little brotherly love. CM: They had us come in the office one at a time, checked our arms, and so on. They took Danny Richmond away and put him in jail. FB: Was he using? CM: Yeah. Yeah. So, Mingus had to get a drummer. They got some young guy. I feel so sorry for the poor guy. I don't even know who it was, but (laughs) Mingus gave him such a hard time. He'd say, 'Here's the time!' kicking the bass drum, you know (laughs). And then Milt Jackson's brother playing bass, Mingus would jump up sometimes off of the piano stool, and grab the bass out of his hands, you know (laughs). But, he was nice to me. Never hit me. And he was very nice to me. FB: He needed some extreme provocation. I mean mostly he was all about the music. He wasn't a violent guy. CM: He was very nice to me all the time. Later on, too, when I was in that bigger band of his, that 10 piece band, which was a joy. We had like a gig at the Village Vanguard for a month. We were there for a whole month with that band. FB: Was that the one that recorded Black Saint and the Sinner Lady? CM: Yeah, exactly. FB: That's a true classic. CM: Yeah, all except for the flamenco guitarist. He came on just for the recording. And also that band, when we did Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, I didn't have any solos. And a week later after we did the recording, he called me up and said "Come to the studio" and he had me sit in the middle of the studio and he said, "I'll point to you when I want you to play and I'll wave you off when I want you to stop." FB: You didn't have a headset? CM: Yeah. FB: Oh, you were listening in, okay. CM: Yeah, I was listening in, but this was like only me after we had recorded the whole thing, you know. So that's how I got all those solos on there. FB: Boy, that was brilliant. I couldn't tell. You couldn't tell it was overdubbed. CM: No. I know it. Yeah. FB: That had some good engineers there, too. That was a fantastic piece. CM: And also that same band did the Mingus Mingus Mingus album with some solos in there. I forget who were all there. FB: A couple guys sitting in. CM: I think John Handy and Booker Erwin and... I don't remember. FB: Mingus was still playin piano a lot of the time? CM: No, Jackie Baird. FB: Oh Baird was on that one? CM: Also, on Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Jackie Baird. FB: Oh, okay. It was the sextet with... CM: With the three horns. FB: With the three horns, yup, okay. CM: Yeah. FB: Tasty stuff. That's definitely a high point. CM: We also did the... I forgot, like... There was one gig there... I forgot, town hall? FB: The town hall concert. CM: The town hall concert. I was on that, too. But, Mingus was asking everybody to come and do that gig, you know (laughs). When we got there to do the gig, the band was all set up. It was a whole bunch of people, close to thirty people I think. They had some tables out in front of the band with copyists still writing out parts and passing them to the band. FB: I remember seeing that in the video of Mingus's life. CM: Really? FB: Yeah. CM: George Wein had organized that gig. And Mingus started out the concert saying "I just want you people to know this is not a concert. This is a recording. And if you want your money back..." (laughs) FB: Well I'm sure those who stayed, however late it was, enjoyed themselves. CM: Probably. Sure. There were a whole bunch of people there. FB: What did you like about Mingus's music? CM: Well Mingus was a wonderful musician. He doesn't get.. Mingus doesn't get enough credit for his bass playing. He was a wonderful bass player. Of course he was a character so that's what attracted people. But his writing was great, and his compositions were wonderful. And he knew how to get the m ost out of his musicians without really putting too much pressure on them. Who knows, maybe it might have been partly fear, that we wanted to keep him happy so he wouldn't hit us or throw something at us or chase us with, you know I've heard some stories. He like chased some people with knives and stuff. I'm talking about guys on the band (laughs). FB: But he always raised the bar high in terms of musical content. CM: That's it! He made you try. FB: And the electricity between him and Richmond was staggering. The pulse was always fluid. The accelerando, the decelerando, the dynamic level would go up and down. It was like a landscape. CM: Exactly. I think I learned a lot about dynamics from him, you know. And to this day, I think that that's one of the most important aspects of music that you can have. Dynamics are very important. That's why some of these, you know, free bands like that are heard around the late sixties or the early seventies, free music was there. A lot of these guys started up here and stayed there. There were no dynamics! That's not music!