~  PERSONAL BIO  ~

MY MUSICAL FAMILY:

I come from a long line of musicians.

My dad, Nick Marano, a professional pianist and marvelous musician, was comfortable in all styles of music, from opera to jazz. My mom was a terrific singer who introduced me to the recordings of her favorite singers - who later became my idols and influences.  My sister, June, is now an opera coach at Manhattan School of Music, probably fulfilling the genes of my opera-loving grandparents. (My grandmother was a mandolin player in Naples).

My Dad taught piano to my sister and me for the first six years or so. These were long, creative sessions with Dad pretending to be a conductor and putting us in every conceivable musical situation so that we would become excellent musicians.  He was a charismatic man who made learning an exciting adventure. I have wonderful memories of his endless enthusiasm and joy -- all of which he passed on to his two musical daughters.

   When I was about 13 and my sister 10, we all studied with a wonderful teacher from Juilliard. He taught all three of us at our home in New Jersey every week, while Mom made dinner for everyone.  It was quite a marathon of studying, learning and dining!

   While I was studying classical music formally, my jazz record collection grew quite suddenly when a family friend lost his job as a DJ and his radio station converted to a talk radio format. The next thing I knew, piles of records were being stacked in my room - mostly singers, but also jazz piano trios. These recordings became my after school musical wonderland adventure. I played them and sang with the great singers in my bedroom mirror and pretended that their musical lives were mine!

   I sang with the best: Ella and Riddle and the Songbook Albums, Nat Cole’s Trio, Sarah and Lena, especially loving the 'live' albums where my fantasy could really fly! I listened to Peggy Lee’s pitch and time and marveled at her understated style. I sang along with Mel and Marty Paich’s wonderful arrangements. I knew every lick and note in all the Sinatra recordings and I longed to be a 'Hi-Lo!' Carmen McRae and early Nancy Wilson recordings focused my goal to night clubs, as did the cool stylings of June, Chris and Anita, and the sound of Doris Day, which was not unlike my early sound. And I loved Dinah and Joe Williams and Ray Charles!

CONSERVATORY:  I attended Manhattan School of Music as a classical piano major and studied with the famed concert artist, Robert Goldsand. There I studied very seriously and felt that every subject was made for me!  I studied arranging with Ray Wright together with my father  - and those lessons began my interest in writing arrangements for myself, my duo, and various groups I work with today.  My Dad also took me to gigs beginning at 13 yrs old.  I sat in as singer and even as pianist throughout my teenage years in all sorts of ensembles.  Coral Records offered me a money & a contract to sing Rock n’ Roll.  I said ‘no’ and my Dad said ‘fine’. . . !

After my graduation, I spent some time singing “Jingles” and demos in the studios, and although I liked the perfection of recording, and the financial reward, I didn’t find it terribly creative and began looking elsewhere for musical satisfaction. Soon after, I signed a contract with Columbia Records, which produced two single releases and a one-year association.

MARANO & MONTEIRO:  After I married and my beautiful daughter Joanna was beginning her teens, I formed Marano & Monteiro [voice and synthesized accordion] and recorded my first CD,  The Real Thing. I began to be noticed by some of my musical heros:  Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Mandel, Benny Carter, Dave Frishberg, Michel Legrand and others. Whitney Balliett, who profiled the duo in The New Yorker,  helped considerably and my duo began working.   I recorded two more CDs,  A Perfect Match and Double Standards on the Denon label in that duo format. I then moved on to more acoustic accompaniment which afforded me the opportunity to sing with a greater sense of musical freedom and creativity.

   I received a call from Benny Carter, inviting me to sing on his Songbook Albums, and  I was also a guest artist on a Dick Hyman CD, and an album featuring the songs of Duncan Lamont, called “Carousel.”  However, my musical childhood dream was really fulfilled with the recording “If You Could See Us Now!”  This project involved singing with the 62-piece Metropole Orchestra. All the  arrangements written by Manny Albam and it was one of the most thrilling musical experiences I have ever had.

SURE THING:  (2001)  I recorded SURE THING, which was a more complete & personal definition of my work. On this project, I accompanied myself on two tracks, and arranged several of the songs, and composed my first song, “Easier To Say Goodbye.” I also co-wrote a lyric with Duncan Lamont, Very Close To Love. The music was written by Tom Harrell.

YOU’RE NEARER   (2004)  My most recent CD, You’re Nearer, war recorded entirely in Holland, with the very finest of Dutch musicians.  Munich Records encouraged me to choose repertoire, and to explore the full extent of my creative abilities as arranger, and self-accompanist on this recording – everyone worked so hard to contribute to the project and this CD was a great deal of fun to make! me.  I feel that it is my most personal recording to date.

JAZZ EDUCATION:  I have loved teaching since I was 16 years old and have been very active in Jazz Education, conducting clinics and master classes internationally. Presently I am a member of the Jazz Faculties of Manhattan School of Music

(16 years) and William Paterson University (8 years).  I have also created my own course for Jazz Vocalists, called Not Just Another Singer! – Musicianship For The Jazz Vocalist.  This course combines the disciplines of vocal, piano, ear-training and musicianship in 90-minute private sessions.  I am writing a methods book, which should be completed in the fall of 2004.  In New York City I offer Jazz Vocal Seminars, called Sessions in Song and Swing, in which my singers can try out their repertoire and musicianship in a comfortable Master Class environment. I have also been invited to be a guest adjudicator and panelist with The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts for 3 years. (NFAA)  I also have been very honored to perform with  Barry Harris and his wonderful ensemble for The Family Jazz Series in NYC’s Town Hall.

   Because of the variety of work and experience my working years have given me, and the supremely talented musicians and amazingly dedicated, creative people that I call my friends and colleagues, I consider myself very lucky to enjoy an extremely rich and balanced life!