Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico Reeds- Charlie Mariano & his multicultural textures, Nadaswaram & more.

In my early days at Berklee School Of Music, before Berklee was a College it was called Berklee School Of Music. The school I attended was at 1140 Boylston St. I went there because I wanted to study with Charlie Mariano, as well as Joe Viola and all the other cool people there. Before going to Berklee, I saw in the Berklee newspaper a picture of Charlie Mariano with a Nadaswaram. It's a double reed instrument with a conical bore which gradually enlarges toward the lower end. It is usually made of ebony. The top portion has a metal staple (called "Mel Anaichu") into which is inserted a small metallic cylinder (called "Kendai") which carries the mouthpiece made of reed. Besides spare reeds, a small ivory or horn needle is attached to the Nadaswaram. This needle is used to clear the mouthpiece of saliva particles and allows the free passage of air. The Nadaswaram has seven finger-holes. There are five additional holes drilled at the bottom which are used as controllers. The Nagaswaram has a range of two and a half octaves like the flute. The system of fingering is similar to that of the flute. But unlike the flute, where semi and quarter tones are produced by the partial opening and closing of the finger holes, in the Nadaswaram they are produced by adjusting the pressure and strength of the air-flow into the pipe. Hence it is a very exacting instrument. Also, due to its intense volume and strength is much more suited for open spaces than for closed indoor concert situations. I was into Paul Horn, Ravi Shankar and John Handy in high school. Listening to the adaption they made with the Indian culture. But of course Coltrane as well. So one day, Charlie sais to me " Hey Tim, want to buy my spare Nadaswaram? " I could barely sleep- I just turned 18 and was head first into everything Charlie said. So I copped it and started to study it with him.To really to be honest , it did a number on my chops at first. It was easy to play, just to get a sound out of. But- to actually play the Ragas and India based studys requires EXTEREME endurance. It tunes ( from our concert instruments ,like piano/violin) an :::Augmented 4th:::and you learn how to bend the pitch with your chops. Mariano taught me this instrument in a very special way. Lessons would be hours and just fun. Sometimes Joe Viola would pop in to listen and check it out. At this point in time like I said, I was 18 and Charlie was 50. he had already played with Kenton, Mingus and a tribute to Coltrane record with Elvin Jones called " Dear John C". He is a timeless person. The nadaswaram really helped me understand the music of India and how it related to jazz. At the time I used to hear Charlie play nadaswaram in Boston with OSMOSSIS, A raga-rock band he had that recorded for RCA. OK-this band kicked holy-*** in the way it sounded.They had two drummers, and a full rhythm section and vocalist. Plus Charlie!! They played " The Boston Tea Party" a Filmore style rock club, and opened for Zappa and Cream. Mariano's lines across the raga-rock grooves were transcendental. NOBODY -was playing like this. The band was on the wrong coast, had they been in the SanFran Bay scene, something might of went down. One of my brilliant students Owen Summers has some links and download info here on OSMOSSIS; http://owensummers.blogspot.com/2008/12/charlie-mariano-osmosis.html Charlie had me chew beetle-nuts to get the double reeds harder , which is like an Indian candy almost walnut or chesnut like , and coated with a sugarish coating. The beetle nut made the reeds for Nadaswaram more vibrant and helped them regain hardness. < they also made you high from the juices- really a buzz to remember > There are very few Americans playing nadaswaram at this point.I was very, lucky to have been around a soulful person like Charlie Mariano at that point in my life. It was an amazing experience. You can tell over 30 years later, the thoughts and memory's are like yesterday. There are some amazing YOU TUBE tracks with Charlie on saxophone, with the KCP4 live at Rudolstadt 2007. Very deep music and so beautiful.Mariano has never been one to stand on tradition, his playing from the 40s on was about expansion.His style was full of bends and fashionable forms to his liking. Or to explore the world music that was his obsession for decades way before anyone else started on it. His playing explored the width and the depth of rich post-bop music. He truly was THE MASTER of this path. But what makes the contribution even more compelling is the way Mariano was weaving and segueing music into a tapestry of compelling moods and color. It's a rewarding listening experience for fans and musicians alike. Charlies gorgeous multicultural textures is an intense experience, so much so that it's tempting to just enjoy it 24-7. For me it always will be a transcendent experience exploding in every direction. His music absolutely bustles with energy and movement decade after decade- weather blowing alto, sopranos ( curved or straight!! ), and nadaswaram within an inch of his life, was constantly agile, lightning quick, and sharp as a tack--and presented himself at the top of his game always. -----There's some great information always from Bobby Stern about Charlie- and the Nadaswaram here too.Very cool stuff from Bobby! http://www.bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2013/05/korner-karnataka-charlie-mariano-konnakolsolkattu-prof-dave-king.html Quite a lesson he taught us and a destination I'm quite happy to be seeking myself upon his life long inspiration. What a great player. What a great person too. Till next week, Keep reaching out to people with a spirit of love and compassion. Doing this will help the environment we live in today a little bit....TIM PRICE' - - CHECK THESE OUT TOO; - - - Supersister - Iskander (Full Album) HQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X2DgIJtvcmw.....Charlie Mariano "Parvati's Dance"....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilL-XobFv_8 - A FEW YEARS AGO...My bro Rob Polan & his great wife Kristen and son Miles, came to visit me. They tried my Nadaswaram, which was Charlie Mariano's spare. It tunes an augmented 4th from piano. Quite the instrument and quite a joy to play. Rob and Kristen had some fun too! Their son Miles was fascinated by it- he almost got a sound. Next time he will!

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