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Artist Profiles

Charlie O the Jazz Man

By Published: December 21, 2008
Jennifer Leitham: I am very sorry to hear of Charlie O's passing. He was truly a beacon for the real jazz players and aficionados. The fact that he was a bassist always made me feel welcome in his club. Charlie O was truly a kindred spirit. It is highly unusual these days to play for an entrepreneur who is a fellow musician. He was immersed in the music. I'll always remember his good humor and kindness, and especially that he gave me a regular night and a chance to prove that my music has always come first. I've been to the club a few times since his passing and it's difficult to look to the end of the bar and not see him on his usual perch.

Bill Henderson

Bill Henderson
Bill Henderson
: Charlie O was a music man. It was his dream to have a club so he could always hear the kind of music he loved most of all seven days a week. Jazz, big bands, quartets, trios, it was all good to Charlie, so he opened a club called Charlie O's. He and his wife Jo-Ann ran the place like a family affair. They hired musicians they wanted to hear.

I think it all started with John Heard, who gave the place atmosphere with his music and paintings of very important, famous, and knowledgeable musicians. Charlie was always looking for new talent.

I don't know when Charlie had the time to do all of the things he did and still be at the entrance of the club where he greeted people with a smile when they walked through the door. He was on a first name basis with a lot of the customers who came to his club. He was a very special man.

There will never be another, but Jo-Ann is still there and runs the place the way he would. We all loved Charlie he loved us.

Long live Charlie O's!

Brick Wahl—L.A. Weekly: This one hurts, but we have to say a few words about Charlie Ottaviano, the Charlie O of Charlie O's. He's gone, betrayed by his ticker two Mondays ago. A couple nights later, the place was packed, the jazz was darker, bluesier and infinitely sadder no matter how hard they bopped. That joint was his dream, and there's no place in all of L.A. these days that is as pure a jazz club as Charlie O's. Scarcely a night goes by we couldn't recommend. None of it would have happened without Charlie O. We'll miss those late nights at the end of the bar, he would be cracking wise with John Heard (though Heard would out talk him 10 or 20 words to one).

Oh, yeah, Charlie was some cat. May the players play their hearts out for the man.

Charlie O
Charlie Ottaviano
January 3, 1942 ~ November 17, 2008

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Photography Credits:
Charlie O's Marquee, courtoisie Scott Whitfield
Charlie O's ambience, Verofoto
Big Band Night, Johnny Jazz
All others from Charlie O's courtoisie Jo-Ann

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