Updated August 15, 2013 - 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

Click Here To See Joe Playing With Shorty Rogers

YouTube Link above Submitted by Tenor Player Andrea Ventriglia in Foggia. Italy

| Maini, Parker and Jazz
By Charles Robert Drago

"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.

Two 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,

I felt good to get your warm letter while I was in the "hospital". Nep
[Jimmy Knepper] and I got out Nov. 17th. I have become a solid citizen and good musician. No more raucous living for me. That 16 months changed me.

About you, I hope everything is fine. I sure miss you. I'm still buying your records (even though I got no box). I'm looking forward to seeing you although it'll be a little while before I can split out to the "apple".

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 you all,
Joe Maini

Thursday 14 May 1953, from Los Angeles - "Bird's Diary" page 124

Dear Bird, Chan , Kim, Pree & Baird,

I was so happy to hear that everything is so nice with "youse". I sure miss you. I am working pretty regularly. Disgustingly healthy! I'm deeply tanned from swimming. Teddy Kotick and Johnny Williams are out here with Stan Getz.

I went to the beach with them yesterday. Nep is fine and going to City
College here. I go sometimes. There's quite a few fellows from New York out here.

I wish I were in New York taking lessons from you at Hartnett Studios. Although I took a lot from you when I was in N.Y. before, in a way.
I can't wait to see the Parker family again. I still feel you're like my
almer pater, Bird. (Don't mind the sloppy penmanship, I should copy this letter over but I'm too lazy!) If you get a chance, please send me some snapshots of yourselves and the new little ones. I'll do likewise.

All my love and wishes for crazy futures. (I'll write more neater next time)
Joe Maini(ac)

*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?

Terry Gibbs Dreamband


Joe and Carol Baker - Chet Baker's wife

Opus 1 featuring Joe and Charlie Kennedy
with the Terry Gibbs Dream Band

Unfortunately, it takes a long time to download with a 56 modem or less.
More suited for a cable modem or DSL

"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

Frank Sinatra Recording Session - April 10th, 1962

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...

For complete article: http://www.songsbysinatra.com/reprints/rouge_1062.html

Remembrances by Pat Maini

Joe-12 years old

     Joe's 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 Brother Pat
Regarding Joe's Accident

August 1962

     Talk 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 window).
     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.

Joe Playing Auld Lang Syne
Buddy Clark - Vic Feldman - Lou Levy - Mel Lewis
Emails and Anecdotes About Joe

E-Mail to: traverma@earthlink.net

Jimmy Knepper - A very good friend of Joe's in the early days.

June 2003

Opening Song on this Website


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
played in Gene Krupa's big band

Charlie Kennedy was in many bands and, as a studio musician, played on the scores for “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady.”

By Jon Thurber
April 13, 2009

Charlie Kennedy, a talented alto saxophonist who was best known for his association with Gene Krupa's big band in the 1940s, has died. He was 81. Kennedy died April 3 of pulmonary disease at his home in Ventura, according to his daughter Lorraine Sutton.

The best years of Kennedy's career were the 1940s, when he played with Louis Prima's big band. His fine tenor solo can be heard on Prima's 1943 version of "The White Cliffs of Dover."

He moved on to lead his own quartet before joining Krupa's big band from 1945 to 1948 and was the featured soloist on a number of recordings, including "How High the Moon," "Disc Jockey Jump" and "I Should Have Kept on Dreaming."

While living in the East, Kennedy also played with a number of other leading bands, including groups led by Charlie Ventura, Flip Phillips and Chico O'Farrill.
After moving to the West Coast in 1950, he played with Med Flory, Bill Holman's orchestra and, most notably, Terry Gibbs' Dream Band from 1959 to 1962.

He was also an active studio musician, playing on popular movies, including "My Fair Lady" and "West Side Story."

But by the early 1970s, Kennedy basically gave up his alto career for a more traditional full-time job to support his family, which by then included six children. By day he ran the shipping department at Federal Stamping in Van Nuys, but in the evenings he sometimes sat in on jazz gigs around town.

He retired from Federal Stamping in 1994 and moved to Ventura in 2004 to be closer to his daughter.

A native of Staten Island, N.Y., he was born Charles Sumner Kennedy on July 2, 1927.

He grew up in Weehawken, N.J., and started playing clarinet at age 8.

He played in school bands and orchestras and by the age of 18 had his first professional appearance when he joined Prima's band. Prima hired him right out of high school.

Kennedy's wife, Ellen, died in 1980.

In addition to Sutton, he is survived by his children Glen Kennedy of Woodland Hills; Joan Tiearney of Carson City, Nev.; Edward Kennedy of Simi Valley; Michael Kennedy of Canoga Park; and John Kennedy of Simi Valley. He is also survived by his sister Joan Dyer of Redondo Beach, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A celebration of his life is being planned.

Emails and Anecdotes About Joe

E-Mail to: marktraversino@gmail.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


Phil Woods

Warne Marsh

Al Porcino

Jack Sheldon

Terry Gibbs Big Band Albums

Joe Albany

Rosie Mitchell Jazz Portraits Below

Count Basie
Thelonius Monk

Joe's Discography In French and English
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