Birds of a feather

Italian Rosario Giuliani is one of three sax players participating in the Opera House’s tribute to legendary reedman Charlie Parker.

May 20, 2010 03:07
3 minute read.
Saxophonist Rosario Giuliani

rasario giuliani 311. (photo credit: PR)


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This Friday, the last installment of this year’s Opera House jazz series will see no fewer than three alto saxophonists pay tribute to the acknowledged king of the instrument, Charlie Parker a.k.a Bird. The three reedmen in question are New Yorker Wessel Anderson, Ukrainian-born Israeli Robert Anchipolovsky and Italian Rosario Giuliani.

Giuliani has been aware of Parker’s legacy for almost his life. “A friend of mine gave me a book with Charlie Parker numbers when I was very small and advised me to learn the tunes. But I was only a kid then and, for me, it was just a bunch of notes,” says the 43-year-old. “Two years later another friend of mine gave me a CD of Charlie Parker numbers and then I understood it a little more. My brother suggested I try the alto but, when I started playing sax, I had no sound or language, just the notes. But gradually I started to understand what it was all about. Charlie Parker was my first step to really getting into jazz. It was then that I really discover how important he is to jazz, to the whole history of jazz.”

According to Giuliani, Parker’s added value pertains to the entire genre. “Parker is not just important for saxophone players, but also for pianist, trumpeters, every musician who plays jazz – he is important for the whole history of jazz.”

Besides the three saxists, the Opera House concert features New York pianist Orrin Evans, Israeli bass player Gilad Abro and American drummer Donald Edwards. Still, three musicians playing the same instrument may sound a bit like overdoing things. Giuliani believes each of the reedmen will bring his own cultural and musical baggage to bear on the final product.

“Wessel is from New York, Robert came to Israel from the Ukraine and I am from Italy,” he says. “Italian musicians bring melody and passion to the music, but we are always open. But it doesn’t really make much difference where you are from, if you are intelligent and open. Anyway, in this concert Charlie Parker is the main actor – we are just the sidemen.”

AS HE was born in 1967, Giuliani missed Parker by quite a few years, but he has shared the bandstand with a venerated bass player who only just missed out on catching Parker live. “A few years ago I played with Charlie Haden. One day we left the hotel very early in the morning and Charlie sat next to me on the bus and started telling me stories about experiences with [iconic pianist] Keith Jarrett, and then about Charlie Parker. He said he was very sad because he arrived in New York in 1956, one year after Parker died. Haden missed him by one year! I think every musician would have liked to have played with Charlie Parker, or at least seen him play live, or just walked down the street with him.”

Parker, sadly, did not spend long on the planet, dying at the age of 34 after years of horrific substance abuse. Giuliani says he appreciates his own mortality but also the preciousness of every moment he lives, and every sound he makes. “I like to play the first note as if it’s the last note I’ll ever play in my life. You never know what’s in store for you. You need to do your best, and it doesn’t have to be just about the music. I know a lot of people who have more swing than musicians, just in the way they live. We can all make sweet music.”

The Charlie Parker tribute concert will take place at the Opera House in Tel Aviv this Friday at 10 p.m. For tickets call 03-6927777 or go to

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