Jazz Pianist Charlie Bechler dies at 75
Charlie Bechler of Waldoboro, long time jazz pianist, died Monday, May 7, from
complications following a stroke earlier this year. He was 75.
For the past 22 years, he lived in an old cape at Back Cove with his artist
wife Audrey. Over the decades Bechler, a composer, teacher and bandleader,
played with numerous jazz musicians. He wholeheartedly supported their efforts,
whether beginners or professionals.
For years he anchored a jazz jam on the first Sunday of each month at the Waldo
Theatre Annex, a session that continues to flourish. He demanded commitment
from his co-musicians, but his high standards were tempered with a sense of
humor, a sense of fun.
Life should be enjoyed, as much as possible, and he managed to do that on a
tight budget. He took pleasure in small things: a cup of coffee at Fernald’s
5&10 in the village. He believed in the value of community, and he fervently
believed in peace, equality and justice; he was greatly dismayed by the current
national leadership that taxes the poor to wage war on behalf of the rich.
Charlie Bechler never made a lot of money, but he made a lot of friends, and
made a lot of people happy through his music. Born in Long Island, N.Y., he
started playing piano seriously at 15, and later studied at Berklee College
He lived in the Boston area, eventually settling in Newburyport, which then
had a bohemian community that welcomed the Bechler family, and still does.
He started a band called Osmosis with bebop saxophonist Charlie Mariano, and
he later played with Maine-based guitarist Tom Hoffman, clarinetist Brad Terry,
singer Laurel Masse and others. He had an early Maine connection: He played
at Rockland’s Thorndike Hotel from 1959-1961.
He played at the Village Vanguard in New York City, one of the world’s
most famous jazz clubs, and he opened for Ike and Tina Turner at Boston Arena,
and shared a bill with J. Giles Band in Haverhill.
The Bechler children remember how people used to gather in front of their Bromfield
Street home in Newburyport to hear their father jamming with friends.
Besides his wife, two artist sons survive him: Christopher and his wife Diane
Downey of Eugene, Oregon, and Douglas of Newburyport. Christopher and Diane
have two children, Courtney and Haley. Also surviving are two sisters: Susie
Sullivan of Quincy, Massachusetts; and Annette Murray of Abington,
Massachusetts. Both sisters have three children.
A memorial is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Broad Bay Congregational
Church, Main Street, Waldoboro — where Charlie Bechler played piano 18
years. The Rev. Nancy Duncan will lead the service.
A reception follows with live jazz, at the Waldo Theatre Annex, Glidden Street.
Quicktime 2.5 or newer is required to play this composition.
Click to play "Baubles, Bangles and Beads"
back to bechler-arts.com
Created by Charlie Bechler on the 3rd of April 1997
Edited by Ed Slawson on the 6th of April 1997
Updated by Charlie Bechler on the 26th of Feb 2001
For more information, please contact:
Charlie Bechler 968 Backcove Rd. Waldoboro, ME 04572 1-207-832-6806
Layout, Design, and Revisions ©2003 by Douglas Bechler......
Revised, Mar. 25, 2003