Louie Marino

Louie Marino

BMHOF Class of 2001

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Louie Marino and his family moved to Buffalo when he was one year old. 

Louie’s love for music started at a very early age with his mother’s phonograph and 78s providing the spark to his music discovery. Among some of the music he would listen to were jazz greats like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. He first learned to drum by slowing down the turntable, allowing him to pick up the beats.

Marino has been a drummer his entire life. At the age of 2, “Santa” would come through the oven and one morning Marino opened it to see a snare drum that his grandfather had given him. After that, at birthday parties or family reunions, he would search out all of the pots and pans to put on a show for everyone.

Marino fell in love with jazz because of the influence that his mother’s records had on him. At the age of 6, hebegan taking lessons to learn how to read music.

While living in California, Marino began his professional career at age 13 with Don Menza and his five-piece band, the Mellow Tones. They played at the Pine Grill for about a year. He later quit school when he was a sophomore to go out on the road.

One of the best memories that he said he could recall was working with Billie Holiday when he toured with her for six weeks in 1957. While on tour, they were run out of Alabama because of the segregation of the time. Marino remembers that it was scary at times, but Billie had gotten them out. He says that she would “bring you to a different place. time-wise” and “lift you up to where you wanted to be.”

Later he would tour with Kai Winding’s band for two and a half years in a group that featured four trombones, a piano, a bass and himself on drums. The notable trombone section included bass trombonist Dick Lee (who wrote a lot of arrangements that jazz musicians play today), Wayne Andre, Carl Fontana and, of course Kai Winding.

Marino said, “drums are a musical instrument, not something that you hit and break cymbals and break drum heads. Drums are tonality. They are tuned and should be toned the way you hear them. You play with tonality, you don’t just play with a lot of noise.”

His father told him to be an accompanist first and a drummer second, that “whoever you work with, you make them sound as best as you can.”
Marino has taught a lot of students in his life. Among his students have been Ed Roscetti, Jack Gavin and Carmen Intorre One thing that Marino finds rewarding is teaching kids with autism and Down syndrome. He started teaching about 60 years ago and kept his passion for it. 
Marino kept playing until his final days, performing with big bands around the Buffalo area.

by Khristine Lyon
Sources:  Based on an interview with Louie Marino by Lucy Bell and Elmer Ploetz

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