Students and players remember Charlie Banacos

Charlie Banacos taught his students the importance of meditation.

Jazz guru Charlie Banacos was known for developing a personal and spiritual connection with his students. Lefteris Kordis, a graduate of the New England Conservatory and a former student of the late Banacos, recalls why he wanted to study with him.

“He was a natural teacher,” says Kordis. “When he was with you he was 100 percent with you, and then he would be 100 percent with the next person.”

Kordis says that Banacos taught his students that every object had a specific vibration.
“And if you meditate, you can feel the vibrations,” says Kordis, who wrote his dissertation on Banacos.

In his 102-page paper, Kordis writes about how meditation was a self-study method that the teacher shared with his students. He describes how Banacos would sometimes sit under a tree with a friend, trying to feel the tree’s vibrations. After 15 minutes they would sing the pitch together, frequently coming up with the same note.

Despite his health issues, Banacos never stopped teaching. He found inspiration in everything, and wanted to experience each day to the fullest. While hospitalized he used the various sounds he heard from the medical machines as examples.

Through his career, which came to an end in 2009 when he lost a battle with cancer, Banacos developed 100 programs of study, some of which include his ear-training improvisation. His improvisation methods are used in curriculums at various schools of music, including Berklee College of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory.

If you go
Remembering Charlie Banacos’ Birthday, 1946-2009
Saturday, 3 p.m
Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge
$10, 617-395-1393
Paying tribute: Saturday’s event will include performances from Raviv Markovitz, Joseph Reid, John Schulman, Steve Lantner and more.


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