The Harmonics of Intensive Care: Charlie Banacos, R.I.P.

One of the country’s greatest music teachers died yesterday. Charlie Banacos taught jazz theory and ear-training for decades from his Massachusetts home; his students include many of the most famous names in jazz music.

His students have performed or recorded with Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Maynard Ferguson, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, David Liebman, Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker and Joe Henderson, among others.


I never studied with Charlie, although many friends and colleagues did. Most importantly for me, the man who taught me most of what I know about jazz was a long-time student of his, so although we never met, I am part of his pedagogical lineage.

But that’s not what this post is about. When I heard about Charlie’s death (through a post on Facebook) I went to the “Charlie Banacos Students” FB page to learn more. And there I read a post called “Email from Charlie.”

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