|Birth name||Michael Marmarosa|
January 12, 1925|
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||September 17, 2002
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a child prodigy, Marmarosa was a trained classical pianist, but familiarised himself with jazz in parallel and practised with schoolmate Erroll Garner, another pianist from Pittsburgh. He received the uncomplimentary nickname "Dodo" as a child because of his large head and short body.
He began his professional career in 1941, joining the Johnny "Scat" Davis Orchestra at the age of 15, which led him to joining Gene Krupa's band shortly after. The early 1940s brought a stint in Charlie Barnet's big band, where he first met Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, the luminaries of bebop. In 1944, he joined Tommy Dorsey, playing alongside Buddy Rich. In November 1944, Marmarosa joined Artie Shaw's combo, known as the Gramercy Five, that also featured guitarist Barney Kessel and fellow Pittsburgher, trumpet player Roy Eldridge.
He recorded as a sideman in the late 1940s, notably with Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Howard McGhee. He also featured in Gene Norman's Just Jazz concerts, and in 1947 won Esquire magazine's New Star (piano) award. His recordings with Charlie Parker in 1946 in Hollywood are regarded as some the finest jazz records ever made.
Marmarosa recorded a 78-rpm single for Savoy Records on July 21, 1950. The recording featured Marmarosa's trio, with Thomas Mandrus on bass and Joe "Jazz" Wallace on drums. The four tunes recorded for the session were reissued by Savoy on the double album, The Modern Jazz Piano Album (1980).
After 1950, his only recordings were a 1961 session for Argo Records under the supervision of Chicago producer Jack Tracy (Dodo's Back!) and a 1962 Chicago studio date featuring him in trio and, with Gene Ammons, quartet settings (available as Prestige CD Jug & Dodo). He continued to perform in Pittsburgh, albeit irregularly, and a CD containing amateur recordings of his performances has been issued by Uptown Records. His low profile has been attributed to mental illness: Marmarosa was drafted in 1954, given electric shock treatment, and discharged in poor psychological condition.
Marmarosa last performed in public at the Colony Restaurant in Pittsburgh in 1968. Despite his intermittent career, he is generally considered to have been in the top rank of jazz pianists.[dubious ] At the time of his death, Marmarosa resided at the VA Medical Center in Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, Pittsburgh, occasionally playing piano and organ for residents and guests of the center.
- Up in Dodo's Room with Miles Davis, Lucky Thompson, Howard McGhee, Teddy Edwards, Charlie Parker, 1946
- Raindrops with Barney Kessel, 1946
- The Dial Masters, 1947
- Dodo's Back! with Marshall Thompson, Richard Evans (Bass), 1961
- Pittsburgh Jazz Society at the Wayback Machine (archived September 28, 2007)
- Post-Gazette Obituary
- Dieter Salemann & Fabian Grob: Flights Of The Vout Bug. A guide to the recorded music of Michael "Dodo" Marmarosa. BearManor Media, Albany, Georgia 2009, ISBN 978-1-59393-337-1
- Lord, Tom comp. (1999), The Jazz Discography, vol. 13. West Vancouver, B.C.: Lord Music Reference.