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Cherico, Gene (15 April 1935 – 12 August 1994)

Double bass player from Buffalo, New York, who started out on drums and even played in an Army band in the ’50s, until injuring his hand. He actually started playing the double bass in an effort to rehabilitate his hand, and after his stint in the Army, he attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music. That’s where he befriended pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi, and they started a trio with drummer Jack Hanna. Gene and Toshiko would wind up recording and performing together throughout their careers.

In 1957, Gene played bass on the humbly titled Amazing Toshiko Akiyoshi and The Many Sides of Toshiko. Four years later, he hooked up with Paul Desmond on his albums, Desmond Blue and Late Lament. In 1962, he recorded New Vibe Man in Town with percussionist Gary Burton. The following year, he re-united with Toshiko on her collaboration with Charlie Mariano, East & West, and Paul Desmond on Take Ten.

It did not take long for Charlie and Toshiko’s musical marriage to become literal, on Toshiko Mariano Quartet, recorded on 30th March of the same year. In 1964, he re-joined Paul Desmond on Glad to Be Unhappy, and made fast friends with saxophonist Stan Getz, appearing on four of his albums, Getz Au Go-Go, Getz/Gilberto #2: Live at Carnegie Hall, Nobody Else but Me, and Stan Getz Meets Joao & Astrud Gilberto. They also contributed material to the soundtrack of Get Yourself a College Girl, and performed The Canadian Concert of Stan Getz & Gary Burton in March 1965. Around this time, Gene contributed his bass lines to two more Paul Desmond efforts, Bossa Antigua and Easy Living.

In 1973, he was a member of the Frank Strazzeri Sextet on View from Within. Two years hence, he re-acquainted himself with Toshiko Akiyoshi on her album, Long Yellow Road.

At the turn of the decade, he was with another old friend, The Vibe Man Gary Burton. In August 1981, he went on tour with Frank Sinatra in Argentina. The two of them recorded together on 1982’s Syms by Sinatra, featuring Frank conducting vocalist Sylvia Sims, and 1984’s L.A. is My Lady.

Unfortunately, the same year L.A. is My Lady hit the shelves, Gene was hit with bad news: He had lymphoma, and decided to retire. On 17th August 1994, he passed away in Santa Monica, California.

Gene Cherico has left behind a musical legacy any bassist would be proud of: Some of the CDs that bear his signature bass lines include Compact Jazz: Best of Bossa Nova, Artistry of Stan Getz, Vol. 1, Astrud Gilberto’s Finest Hour, Sinatra: Vegas, Mosaic Select: Toshiko Akiyoshi…Lew Tabackin Big Band, and Flame…Healing Jazz Collection.

Here he is playing bass on “It Might As Well Be Spring” sung by Astrud Gilberto at Carnegie Hall…