Woodwind Master Charlie Mariano '51 Passes from the Scene

Kenton, India, ECM—Mariano did it all.
June 18, 2009

Multi-woodwind instrument player Charlie Mariano '51 of Cologne, Germany, passed away on June 16 after a long battle with cancer. He was 85.

Born in Boston in 1923, Mariano was drawn to the big band music of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, and later became entranced by the bebop sounds of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He served as a military musician for two years during WWII and subsequently studied at Schillinger House (now Berklee), where his fellow students were Herb Pomerory, Quincy Jones, and Ray Santisi.

He did several short stints as a Berklee faculty member in 1957, 1965, and 1969. While teaching at Berklee, he met and married pianist/composer Toshiko Akiyoshi. The couple had a daughter, Monday Michuru, before divorcing in 1965. Mariano returned to the faculty for a year in 1975, before relocating permanently to Europe.

Through the years, Mariano played with countless jazz greats including the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Shelly Manne, and Charles Mingus, as well as an array of European musicians including Eberhard Weber and Philip Catherine. Mariano was profiled in the 1998 film Charlie Mariano's Jazz World and in the 1993 biography Tears of Sound by German author Lothar Lewien.

In addition to playing all the saxophones, he played the nadaswaram, a double-reed instrument he studied in South India. He was an early advocate of jazz/rock fusion and of blending elements of ethnic folk music from various cultures with jazz.

He leaves his wife Dorothee Zippel Mariano; six daughters, Sherry, Zana, and Cynthia Mariano, Melanie Lamar, Celeste Perrigo, and Monday Michuru; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A scholarship in Charlie Mariano's memory has been established at Berklee. Donations to this fund can be made by check, payable to Berklee College of Music. Please attach a note indicating that your donation is earmarked for the Charlie Mariano Fund or write "Charlie Mariano Fund" in the memo line of your check. Send donations to:

Marjorie O'Malley
Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215

Online donations can be made to this fund at berklee.edu/giving.