Updated June 1, 2009 - Have Speakers On
Joe (Giuseppe) Maini Jr.
February 8, 1930-May 7, 1964
Opening song: Joe Maini-Alto, Jimmy Kneeper-Trombone,
Charles Mingus-Bass, Bill Triglia-Piano, Dannie Richmond-Drums
YouTube Link above Submitted by Tenor Player Andrea Ventriglia in Foggia. Italy
| Maini, Parker and Jazz
By Charles Robert Drago abridged
"Sure, I knew Bird: I used to hang out with him" - Joe Maini
Joe was a natural, some would
say a genius. He really embodied the pure ideal of the jazz musician.
Joe was probably one of the greatest natural jazzman working on the Coast. A
disciple of Charlie Parker -
and not just a distant admirer...Bird loved Joe. Maini undeniably had great potential. He was widely
respected, brilliant. Hearing the confident
strength of Maini's playing on records from the early '50s (largely on the Contemporary
and World Pacific labels), one marvels not only at that current level of sophistication,
but at the overwhelming potential for future greatness which Maini nightly exhibited.
Letters from Joe to Bird
Thanks to Vincent Bessieres in Paris* 3/4/05
Friday 23 January 1953, from Los Angeles - "Bird's Diary" page 118
Dear Bird, Chan, Kim etc,
Jerry Mulligan is making a lot of money out here. He's got a small group with no piano. I played with him the other night on his gig and it was a lotof fun. Sure is pretty weather we're having here - warm - Nep and I have a small library for alto, tenor, trom and 3 rhythm. Can't seem to find a tenor man who can read them.
All my love and best wishes to
Thursday 14 May 1953, from Los Angeles
- "Bird's Diary" page 124
Dear Bird, Chan , Kim, Pree &
*Thanks to Vincent Bessières - Paris
Joe and Diz playing poker - Circa early 1950's
Notice that Joe's got all the money-Looks like Diz lost
Max Roach, Herb Geller, Walter Benton, Joe Maini, Clifford Brown,
Not in picture: Kenny Drew - Curtis Counce - August 1954
Charlie Barnet conducting and Joe listening to the music
The Connection, Percy, Joe and Diz
Med Flory, Med's wife, Joanie, Henry Fonda, Joe
Zoot Sims, Joe and Bill Holman
Who's the piano player?
NEW FOUND PICTURE OF JOE
Joe and Carol Baker - Chet Baker's wife
"Don't cry Joe, I'll tell you a different joke."
"I don't think I can handle it, Al."
This picture was taken at the Sanbah Room 4500 Sunset Boulevard in 1962.
This was Joe's big band. Notice Joe's elite tuxedo and prong shoes,
and Charlie Kennedy on the right, I owned the club at the time.
Sandy Stewart, Jack Sheldon and Joe - 1962 - also at the Sanbah.
My biggest regret - I don't have a picture of Joe and myself together.
Click hyperlink below to hear Joe playing Sorrento with Ray Anthony
"Come Back To Sorrento"
Joe Maini and Bill Perkins - Joe and Warne Marsh - Who's the drummer?
Sandra, Joe, and Giuseppe playing a smashed up horn Circa 1962
Joe, I'm having open house tonight.
Can you make it?
Are you kidding!
A thought from Joe
Sinatra never removed
his hat once during the two sessions, though occasionally he tilted it
back on a head of hair that began thinning some years back and now shows
gray around the ears. (Only one other hat remained unremoved and that
was worn by veteran jazzman Ben Webster, who is so busy these days that
he came to the first session carrying dinner-sandwiches in two brown paper
bags into which he dipped at odd moments. At the second session
Joe Maini became a topic of talk among the spectators
because, wearing open leather beach sandals on bare feet, he kept time
by moving one middle toe up and down rhythmically while all the other
toes remained stationary.) Sinatra squints when he concentrates
and when he wanted the band to stop playing, he held up his right...
Joe-12 years old
destiny began when he was about eight. All the kids in his class were given
a primitive flute with a six hole fingering range. Actually, it cost two dollars.
They were taught simple tunes. Joe picked it up fast and was soon able to play
popular songs by covering the holes half way for the sharps and flats.
At about ten years he was given an alto sax and started on formal music lessons with a good instructor named Joe Piacitelli in Providence. I remember that I had to do most of the household chores while Joe was exempt because it was important that he had to practice his lessons. His "practicing" consisted of placing a comic book in front of the music sheet and making honking sounds. He confessed much later to me that he would practice and master the exercises one-hour before going to get his new lesson. His teacher recognized his musical ability and, as he progressed, submitted his name to a couple of radio talent shows. He was doing solos on the air when he was about thirteen years old.
Joe played professionally at fourteen, working one summer in a band at a summer resort. The leader, afraid of the child labor laws, colored his side burns lower to have him appear older. Joe told me the waitresses knew he was a virgin and were vying with each other to see which one would be the first to deflower him.
His family moved to Los Angeles in 1945. I was in the Navy at that time taking part in the invasion of Normandy. In high school he played in the orchestra and the band and formed his own swing quartet playing a lot of clarinet. During high school Joe would go to clubs on Vine St, at night, to hear jazz. He couldn't get in so he would stand outside to hear the sounds. He would also take along his horn to jam with some of the guys he knew. His father used to get pissed because he'd get home late at night so he started locking the instruments in the garage to punish him. Joe just borrowed somebody else's axe and still stayed out.
He was very popular in high school and was elected Student Body President of John Marshall High School and served O K for awhile until the Principal tried to remove him from office because of some outrageous stuff Joe pulled. Joe protested and pointed out that he could only be taken out by impeachment.
At a pre-graduation party, the Dean busted Joe for smoking with the hired band during a break. Even though his grades were high enough to graduate, the Principal punished him by not allowing him to receive his diploma at graduation. Joe was told he would be issued the diploma after the school received a letter from a future employer attesting to Joe's good behavior and responsibility. That letter was written and sent by Alvino Rey who hired him.
While on the road with Rey's band he was busted in a hotel room in Dayton, Ohio with another sax player, two chicks and some pot. If you can remember, in those days, if you were found with one seed you were a dope fiend and were sent to the joint! Headlines in all the big papers! Since Joe was only eighteen, a relative in Rhode Island, who was an attorney, managed to get him out by having the others charged for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Comments by Joe's
Regarding Joe's Accident
of suicide or Russian roulette was, and is, spread by people who were "friends
of his." After he died anyone with a nodding acquaintance became a "friend of
his" and it befitted him as an icon to those who only knew him vicariously.
It became fashionable to be one of Joe's "friends" who knew him real good. The
only folks he was tight with are those you've described as his true friends.
He was drawn to an unpretentious few. He did not suffer assholes. I would like
to add some personal experiences to this perpetual archive of his memory.
Mark, your account of the circumstances of Joe's accident is essentially true. I had gone with Joe a couple of times to Ray's house myself. The house was actually a garage that was remodeled into a small apartment. It was next to an unlighted alley. Very spooky at night.
Daphne, Ray's live in, was frightened one night by people sounds in the alley, when Ray was working. Ray borrowed a pistol from someone for Daphne to protect herself. That's a laugh because it's a fact that most gunshot accidents, in the home, occur this way. Ray had no ammunition for the gun, so when Joe visited Ray they played around with the gun - snapping the trigger and fooling around with it. The next time Joe visited, Ray had obtained some bullets and the accident happened just as you described it. I received a call from Ray after the accident. I met him at the hospital within one half hour or so after accident and he told me what really had occurred.
Mark: The web site you've created is a wonderful testament of your friendship with Joe, and an opportunity for me to clear the air of the rumors regarding his accident. Thanks. Pat Maini
Joe Maini by Mark Traversino
Joe not only hung out with Bird,
but hung out with musicians famous, mediocre, or just plain terrible. Joe was
a social animal. He liked people and it didn't matter what kind of music they
played or how good they played it. He had a great sense of humor and we did
a lot of laughing (and suffering) together. I've heard talk that Joe was suicidal.
That is absolutely ridiculous. In the years I knew him, 1953-1964, I never knew
anyone who had a more zest for life than Joe. I'm sure he suffered depression
because of the on-again off-again battle with drugs, but suicide? No way! Perhaps
those who only knew Joe as a 'character' may rationalize that his self-inflected
death was a suicide. However, I will never believe that, and later in this article
I will give you some incite into the night of that unfortunate incident.
I first met Joe Maini in 1953
through a drummer named Joe Dillard who had a gig at the Tip Top Cafe located
at 257 S. Main Street, a few doors from 3rd Street on LA's skid row district.
The bass player was Bob 'Dingbot' Kesterson, better know as Ding. (Ding was
the bass player on Bird's recordings of Be-Bop and The Gypsy). As I look back
on the rapidly approaching end of my mediocre career, I have to admit that I
wasn't a very good piano player then, or now. Joe never said a word to me about
my playing, however, if I played a wrong change, he would play an arpeggio of
the correct chord on his sax. It would drive me crazy when I still couldn't
find the right chord, but Joe and I would just look at each other and laugh.
Nevertheless, my personality was perfect for the seven dollar a night gig for
the gay clientele at the Tip Top. The owner was a mini-version of Sidney Greenstreet
named Dave Lasnover. Ironically, I went to Dorsey High School with his son Marvin
here in L.A. Also, attending Dorsey was tenor player, Walter Benton, who really got me into music. We were pretty tight back then. Once Walter and his buddy, Eric Dolphy, a bass player and myself played for a school function in the circle one glorius day. I will never forget that because I wore a zoot suit. Man, I thought I was really hot. Sorry if I digress.
It always took a bit of time after entering to get used to the smell of the Tip Top, which was a combination of disinfectant, beer and air freshener. I remember vividly the screaming gay clientele when Joe played Harlem Nocturne.
Many well-known players sat in including: Gene Roland, Jimmy Kneeper, Walter Norris, Jack Sheldon, Herb Geller and many many others. Gene Roland was great. He would always get backgrounds going behind the soloists. Instant arrangements. The place would rock. I'd give anything to get hypnotized back to the Tip Top for just one night.
Jump to 1963-64. At that time
I owned my third niteclub called the Mardi Gras in the Park Wilshire Hotel at
2424 Wilshire Boulevard in LA. On the night of May 6, 1964, we celebrated my
34th birthday in the club. Joe was playing with me at the time as was Carmen
Russo on drums, (it could have been Will Bradley Jr) and Ernie Williams
on bass. Joe and I got pretty drunk. After the gig, Joe wound up at Ray Graziano's
place. (Ray played sax and was a good friend of Joe's. Ray had recently bought a
22. pistol because his girlfriend, Daphnie, had seen a prowler looking in the
By this time, Joe had to be quite loaded and was still drinking and picked up the gun. Joe was a very daring person and would do anything for a laugh or do something to add to his legendary ccomplishments (I can just imagine what his friends would have said if the gun wasn't loaded: "Did you hear? Joe played Russian Roulette the other night. Man, he's really wild. That's Joe for you.") Anyhow, Ray told Joe the gun was loaded and to stop messing around. Evidentally, Joe had played with the gun previously and it wasn't loaded. He might have even put the empty gun to head just messing around. However, that's just just speculation. However, Joe put the gun to his head and said something to the effect, "This gun ain't loaded," and pulled the trigger. I believe the gun was a .22 and the bullet was not strong enought to come out the other side of his head. Instead the bullet bounced back and forth and he would have been a total disfunctual person had he lived.
I received a call from a girl who frequented the club late that night. She told me she heard on the radio that Joe had been shot. Joe died the next evening, May 7, 1964. The hospital was a madhouse A nurse told me that Joe received more phone calls than anyone else had ever received. I think it was around 8:00 that we were informed that Joe was just about gone. Everyone, went in to say their farewell to Joe. I may have been the only one who didn't. I just wanted to remember the way Joe was.
Suicide? No way! Joe did not commit suicide! Some loonies may think so, but it's ridiculous. Joe loved life. Joe was just being Joe. You had to know Joe to understand what happened. It was an unfortunate incident/accident that stunned the jazz world and ended a hard but exciting career. I doubt if any of his good friends consider what happened a suicide. I will never forget Joe and to this day I think about him often as I'm sure a multitude of his friends and admirers whose path he crossed do.
Click on the lilnk below for more about Joe
Joe Playing Auld Lang Syne
Buddy Clark - Vic Feldman - Lou Levy - Mel Lewis
Emails and Anecdotes About Joe
E-Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jimmy Knepper - A very good friend of Joe's in the early days.
Opening Song on this Website
LATTER DAY SAINT (Knepper)
From the Album "The Jimmy Knepper Quintet"
Recorded in New York City June 10, 1957
Joe Maini-Alto Jimmy Knepper-Trombone Bill Triglia-Piano
Charles Mingus-Bass Dannie Richmond-Drums
Debut Records Fantasy, Inc. Tenth and Parker Berkley, CA 94710
Jimmy Kneeper - Roy Haynes - Charlie Parker
Musicians Local 47 Overture - Hollywood - June 2005
Gary Frommer, 70 - Anchorage resident Gary Martin Frommer, 70, died May 6, 2005, at home. Mr. Frommer was born Feb. 23, 1935, in Los Angeles. He moved to Anchorage in 2000. Mr. Frommer was a member of Skyline Foursquare Church and did volunteer work at the Loussac Library. He was a professional jazz drummer. His family said: “Gary was an exciting and talented musician/master drummer. He performed with many of the world's jazz greats such as Barney Kessell, Stan Getz, Art Pepper and Van Morrison to name a few. In Alaska, he performed with Yukon Ryder and Rare Form. Gary will be missed very much by his friends and family.” He is survived by his brother; two daughters, Valerie & Michelle; three grandchildren; and stepmother, Marlene Frommer. His father, Julius Frommer, preceded him in death.
Mr. Frommer has been cremated and his cremains will be scattered on a northern California hillside. No services are planned. Arrangements were by Anchorage Funeral Home and Crematory
Charlie Kennedy dies at 81; alto saxophonist
Emails and Anecdotes About Joe
E-Mail to: email@example.com
If you have any pictures you would like to see on this website, scan and email them. If you can't scan them, we can make some other arrangements by email. If you would like to write an experience or write a tribute or any anecdote please email the information and it will be put on the website.
Website made in collaboration with Pat Maini and Mark Traversino
Terry Gibbs Big Band Albums
Rosie Mitchell Jazz Portraits
Joe's Discography In French
Vincent Bessières - Paris
Tenor Player Andrea Ventriglia in Foggia. Italy
Erlink Kroner - Denmark - Tribute To Jimmy Kneeper
Erlink Kroner Band - Denmark
Song "The Old Days" Mark Traversino