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In one of my nearly 300 lessons, I asked Charlie's advice to help me take better control in situations with non-listening drummers. He asked me to put my finger on the top of the piano. Then he said, "now put it there with yourself behind it and impart the energy all the way into and through the piano. You can impart your time the same way on the bass." I can help many of my own students with this lesson. It is important to remind ourselves why we play music. It's a blessing to have the gift of self expression. Don't waste it. Put all of yourself into it always. Thanks once again Charlie. Bruce Gertz
I just read of Charlie's passing today. .Damn, I loved that guy. . In the years of study with him (71- 74 or so..when i started with Charlie, i was just beyond beginner), I never saw him less than his usual ebullient self, with a sense of humor that always put me at ease. He could be totally spiritual or intellectual of the highest order, and then be really goofy. At lessons, we'd play tunes, and I would improvise over changes, or play a solo that he had had me transcribe. Several times after listening to Charlie play 3 or 4 choruses, Id be unable to play (flute/sax) because I was laughing so hard. Many times, i left a lesson thinking not of my playing, but that I just got to play with one of the most brilliant creative musicians in the world. And he respected the art of teaching every bit as much as he respected music...Even though he was just a few years older than I, Charlie was a wise old soul...a Buddah/Monk, with such depth and grace and dignity and his thick Bahstin accent, that could swing like the baddest mf you ever heard. To me, in my musical life, and beyond, Charlie Banacos made all the difference. Thank you, Maestro!
You really captured Charlie in this article. Thank you for your article, and thank you, Charlie, for everything!
I want to announce a Charlie Banacos Tribute Concert and sharing of Charlieisms May 1, 2010 at the Boston Public Library, Raab Auditorium. 2-4 PM
I have just completed my new CD, Thank You Charlie, dedicated to the memory of Charlie Banacos. It will be out very soon. I will perform This Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 8 PM At Cafe Jazz, Temple Beth Shalom, 23 East Foster St. Melrose MA. 02176, Tickets are $20.00. We will perform the music of this new CD.
i was shocked to read of charlie's passing. i miss him deeply. i studied with him for three years+. he was consistently great. always made me laugh, and inspired me to practice intensely. every thanksgiving it was "eat the bird"...silly jokes at every lesson....always incredible energy. i would forget to pay him because my head was always spinning with the lesson material. i got up to four notes with the ear training, and i'll never be able to thank him for all the great ideas i still use every time i play........my best to his family.
I know I am a little late in getting to an appreciation of Charlie. I found out about his passing only a short time ago. But maybe I bring a unique perspective. From about 1970 to 1973, I played electric bass around Boston with a singer named Willie Wright. Willie played acoustic guitar and sang, specializing in a Caribbean type sound,(Calypso, we covered a couple of Harry Belefonte songs... the word reggae hadn't been coined),and some jazz and blues. Some gigs would just be Willie and myself and a primitive drum machine (actually pretty cool for it's time). I was in over my head, not having been playing very long and trying to learn fast: on-the-job training, if you will. Willie must have tolerated my playing, perhaps tempered by my enthusiasm. Willie also had a unique ability to attract really good musicians to sit in and sometimes stay a while, expanding us into a trio, quartet or even more for periods of time. At a Friday/Saturday night gig at a club on Beacon Street near Kenmore Square, a piano player named Charlie Banacos joined us for about 2 or 3 months. At the time, I didn't know who he was. I did know he was just trying to pick up a few extra bucks and that he 'taught piano' during the week nearby on Harvard Street in Brookline, not 2 blocks from where I grew up. Of course, in hindsight, this turned into one of the most unique experiences in my (fairly short-lived) bass-playing career!
This guy could play!!! We would start a song that he did not know, and in short order, he would know it better than us. There was something going on here that I had never seen before. He was amazing. He would play a solo in a song and start playing the theme to "Batman" in the middle of it, once a night, with a great sense of humor, good-naturedly poking fun at Willie, the singer. I was hanging on for dear life on my Danelectro Longhorn. He introduced me to the music of Jaki Byard and would play a song entitled "Inch by Inch, Yard by Yard" and he would say "get it...by Yard."
I moved away from Boston and in the ensuing years, his name would pop into my mind every once in a while. With the advent of the Internet, one day I found out who he was and realized who I had been gigging with.
It was with great sadness that I read about his passing without ever having been able to re-connect, to see if he remembered that long-ago gig.
Jane Ira Bloom
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