The Moody Blues: By Dodo Marmarosa

I read somewhere recently that a genius is someone who does easily what others cannot do at all. This definition certainly applies to the unrivalled alto-saxophonist Charlie Parker who is a towering musical genius, but I think the forgotten pianist Michael ‘Dodo’ Marmarosa (1925 – 2002) might just scrape into the ‘genius’ category.

Marmarosa at aged 15 was good enough to play professionally in the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa and Artie Shaw, all top of the heap in their day. He then went to California, graduated from swing to bebop, and recorded with Charlie Parker and other leading players.

Unfortunately, despite his prodigious talent on piano, he suffered from mental health problems and as a result returned to his family in Pittsburgh and almost disappeared from the music scene. In 1962 he recorded one last time with Gene Ammons but the session also included a few piano bass and drums trio titles. I recommend his own composition ‘The Moody Blues’, a catchy melody with a deceptively complex structure. Marmarosa made it sound easy to play, for he was possessed of a superb technique and a truly creative mind. He deserves to be remembered at a time when serious newspapers waste columns on musical morons.

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