With an immediacy and candor that defies genre, Charlie Bommarito has developed a unique and dynamic improvisational style. As keyboardist, percussionist and composer, Charlie’s creations range from dreamy meditative softscapes to energetic rhythmical percolations. His recent solo and band albums feature an exquisite Fazioli piano in his acoustically resonant Bright Room studio overlooking Martha Lake in the Pacific Northwest.
Growing up in Detroit, in the 60’s and 70’s, Charlie heard plenty of Motown radio and began attending rock concerts at the age of ten, taking in the likes of Santana, Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa. By fifteen, Charlie had established a habit of slipping into the oldest jazz club in Detroit, Baker's Keyboard Lounge, to hear innovators like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Pharoah Sanders, Leon Thomas, and Dizzy Gillespie. In other directions, he was mesmerized by the dynamic Indian trio Alla Rakha, Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar. With his high school class he traveled to Jamaica and came back with two armloads of percussion instruments and a greater appreciation for Bob Marley.
After high school, Charlie attended Oakland University in Detroit, studying music history, ear training, philosophy, and psychology. He also sought out the tutelage of Matt Michaels, well known jazz pianist in the Detroit area. In 1977, at the age of 20, Charlie produced his first concert at Macomb College (excerpts of which can be found on Echoes from the Basement CD.) In his ‘67 Mustang, he also launched his arrive-at-your-door piano-teaching career.
In 1979, Charlie drove that same Mustang to Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO for summer study with Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Colin Walcott, Paul McCandless, all members of the band, Oregon. Heading west, he reached San Francisco, then meandered up the coast highway to Seattle. There, he studied approaches to music with Ralph Towner. Often visiting Cornish College for concerts, Charlie was enriched by frequent contact with Gary Peacock, Jerry Granelli, and Art Lande who were all teaching there. Charlie established a teaching studio on N. 46th St. and then in Ballard.
In the 1990’s Charlie got married, moved to Martha Lake (north of Seattle) and established the Bright Room Studio named by his young son, Chaz, (soon to be drummer.) His Yamaha conservatory grand piano eventually made way for his beloved Italian hand-made Fazioli. The studio also holds several Roli Seaboards, a Yamaha Workstation, Novation UltraNova synthesizer, recording equipment, monitors, PA system, m’biras, Hammond melodica, as well as a range of percussion instruments from tiny shakers to custom xylophones, hang drum, djembes, congas, chimes, shakers, and bells. An image of Rhasaan looks down and makes sure everyone is “staying on the case.”
Since 2000, Charlie has produced 12 CDs, both solo works as well as recordings with his band, Percolations, which includes various evolving guest artists through the years.
With his band Percolations, Charlie brings together an ensemble of gifted players steeped in world music, jazz, rock and the unclassifiable.