Toshiko Akiyoshi-Charlie Mariano Quartet: Deep River
Toshiko-Mariano Quartet (Candid 79012)
Recorded: New York City, Dec. 5, 1960
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
The group that Toshiko Akiyoshi co-led with her first husband Charlie Mariano in the '60's should be better known and remembered. Both musicians were at the time passionate players in the process of developing more individual styles that would gradually remove the stigma of being generally described as Bud Powell (Akiyoshi) and Charlie Parker (Mariano) imitators. That Toshiko and Charlie each got to perform with Charles Mingus during that period certainly provided an impetus for more personalized playing on their parts, with recorded evidence available in Charlie's case via his brilliant alto solos on the 1963 Mingus albums The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus.
The old spiritual "Deep River" is a feature for Mariano's intense alto. By the late '60's Mariano would begin exploring jazz-rock, fusion, Indian, and even classical music, but on this "Deep River" from 1960 he's still primarily a hard bopper with a daring, rawness, and emotional edginess remindful to some extent of Art Pepper and Jackie McLean. Toshiko's decidedly church-rooted intro gives way to Charlie's soulful opening arpeggios and his mournful, reverent reading of the theme. His solo, after Toshiko's brief but authoritative interlude, is bluesy and passionately driven, and features sparkling, piercingly articulated runs. His coda is a sincere expression that moves this solemn traditional song into the realm of secular shout-out. This is the work of a rapidly maturing saxophonist.
Charlie Mariano passed away on June 16, 2009 at the age of 85.
Reviewer: Scott Albin