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Pianist, Composer, Author and Educator (1946-2009)

Letter from the Banacos Family (30 July 2012)

As we approach what would have been Charlie's 66th birthday next month, his family would like to express their deep gratitude and appreciation to a number of individuals who have kept his legacy alive. There is a newly published dissertation by Lefteris Kordis at the New England Conservatory of Music on Charlie's pedagogy (appropriately named "Top Speed and in All Keys: Charlie Banacos's Pedagogy of Jazz Improvisation"). Lefteris' tireless research - including helpful interviews from dozens of students - resulted in an exciting and wonderfully comprehensive assessment of Charlie's teaching methods.

Second, we thank all the students who have been able to continue with the online lessons and new students, worldwide, who are studying Charlie's jazz techniques with Barbara Banacos and Garry Dial. In particular, Garry has been an incredible resource having studied continuously with Charlie for about 40 years, and has not only helped keep the lessons true to their originals, but has also added his own magic. Given that Garry only teaches 10 or more hours a day, we are thankful he was able to fit this into his schedule!

Third, we thank all the former students who have continued to write to us, sharing consoling messages and stories, and also saying that they have yet to run out of material to practice. There have also been a number of song and CD dedications, performances and concerts in Charlie's memory, and other actions that have meant more than you may realize. Knowing that his work is alive and flourishing has been a powerful and valuable part of the healing process over the past two and a half years.

Charlie was always quick to say that all students were an important part of his musical family. Teaching was something he looked forward to each day in the studio, in the taped correspondence and online lessons, and in hard-working "off hours" developing tailored material to fit individual needs. He dedicated five decades to teaching. Charlie was always excited when he heard of student successes of all kinds and knowing that they were "really burnin'".

Doing music for music's sake was central to his teaching philosophy. So again, we write with this in mind and say thank you to everyone for keeping the work alive. Happy birthday, Charlie. Because of you we are all still "cookin'"!

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Links Charlie's Wikipedia Page