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Saturday, June 20, 2009

EMBRYO : Side Track (1974/5)

R.I.P. Charlie Mariano (Nov. 12, 1923 - Jun. 16, 2009)


Born Carmine Ugo Mariano on November 12, 1923 in Boston MA died June 16, 2009 in Cologne Germany at the Mildred Scheel Hospiz. Charlie’s music career spans from 1940 when at the age of 17 his sister Colina gave him his first saxophone to 2009 when at the age of 85 he was still performing and recording music. Charlie served three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II where he met his first wife Glenna Gregory.

Following his service in the military he became a student at Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) graduating in 1951. He became a well known alto saxophonist during his time with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and Shelly Manne through his West Coast era. In 1958 with wife and four daughters in tow Charlie returned to Boston to teach at Berklee where he immersed himself in the Boston jazz scene. Along with Herb Pomeroy and Ray Santisi he founded the Jazz Workshop which became a popular jazz club featuring many jazz greats. During this period he met and married Toshiko Akiyoshi and formed the Toshiko Mariano Quartet. Afterwards he also performed with Charles Mingus and appeared on the Black Saint and The Sinner Lady and Mingus Mingus Mingus albums. At this time his fifth daughter was born.

From 1965 to 1971 he raised two of his daughters as a single father while teaching at Berklee. During that time he moved to Newburyport and formed a rock fusion band called Osmosis with local pianist Charlie Bechler. Prior to moving to Europe his sixth daughter was born with his partner Charlotte Bulathsinghala. While in Europe he played and recorded in many diverse musical genres including jazz rock fusion, South Indian music and contemporary European jazz. Charlie is considered one of the pioneers of world music.

Mariano was a true musical sponge, he played with SO MANY European jazz artists, it didn't seem like he ever took a break. Notable artists he played with (especially in the '70s): Sadao Watanabe, Osmosis, Supersister, Embryo, Philip Catherine, Eberhard Weber, Rolf Kuhn, Jasper van't Hof, and of course The United Jazz + Rock Ensemble.
This obscure track is by German jazz-rock/world music band Embryo. This is from the period when they were quite funky, as you can tell by the sloppy drum groove. Mariano is one of the featured sax soloists, and you can hear him blowing after some of the verses. This was one of the many songs that fell through the cracks due to labelling. Too funky for jazzheads, too jazzy for rockers, too straightforward for progressive rock fans, and too 'western' for Europeans. But it fares better without the pigeonholing. It does have a progressive side to it, starting at 3:41, with the continued funky beat. A very underrated album, and a fantastic cover!

Song : "Side Track" by Embryo (recorded 1974)
From the LP "SURFIN'" (BASF) Jan. 1975

Christian Burchard : drums, mellotron
Roman Bunka : guitar, vocals, bass, percussion
Charlie Mariano : soprano sax
Edgar Hofmann : soprano sax, violins)

Get it here : Side Track

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