Saxophonist Joe Maini
's life was short, fast and colorful and it ended tragically when he was still in his prime. A talented yet erratic musician Maini was a fervent admirer of saxophone master and innovator Charlie Parker
, but only spent a very brief while in New York learning from his idol. Otherwise he spent most of his career in Los Angeles and remains sorely unknown outside a small group of jazz fanatics.
Nicolas Rabel's second jazz-app, on the digital imprint Ideo-Libris that he cofounded, is dedicated to Maini. Much like the first, "Don Sleet," the current biography is told in the first person with a choice of English or French. It also shares with its predecessor links to contemporary important world events on the left side and sound clips from seminal recordings of the era on the right. Embedded videos of performances of bands in which Maini played further enhance the narrative.
Rabel has thoroughly researched his subject as well as obtained personal details from Maini's daughter. The resulting account is a rich and vivid sketch of a brilliant and deeply flawed man and is spiced with captivating anecdotes and intimate trivia. For instance Rabel tells, with plenty of humor, the reason why Maini always wore sandals, even with suits and how his jocularity infuriated singer Frank Sinatra
. Rabel also recounts Maini's relationships, both good and bad, with fellow saxophonists Parker, Art Pepper
and Herb Geller
. Finally he sets the record straight on Maini's untimely death as well as on the fate of Parker's saxophone that Maini owned and cherished.
Rabel's invention allows his unique ebooks to deliver a multimedia experience. But his writing does not need the audiovisual embellishments to stand out, as it is engaging and vibrant in of itself. "Joe Maini" and its predecessor "Don Sleet," are more than intriguing and entertaining stories that superbly recreate the lives of these men and their times, they also serve as introductions to unjustly obscure artists who deserve a wider recognition.