CHARLEY KRACHY: ASPECTS OF A LIFE IN MUSIC

Engineer Charley Krachy circa 1958

Engineer Charley Krachy circa 1958

Charly Krachy

I could be wrong but the emphasis on originality is misplaced. The trick is: to be yourself.  And within that, you are of your community as well as an individual with something wholly your own to say. Charley Krachy is purely a jazz man, he’s a purveyor of improvisations in the tradition of long lyric lines that weave and interlace and crawl up the trellis like a vine into your head. He’s a Lestorian in that sense. He’s also Charley all the way.

Charley Krachy has spent his life between New York City and an hour north of the city in the Upper Hudson River Valley in the towns of VerPlanck, Peekskill, Cold Spring, Garrison, Beacon, Cortlandt, all on the east side of the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, Appalachian Trail, near West Point Military Academy (on west side of Hudson across from Cold Spring) —- You can catch the Metro North Railway out of Grand Central Terminal (or pick it up at 125th as Virg does) and float up on the ride north out of the city. This is the Hudson Highlands. Ask Charley about the blue crabs.

Note the K on the music stands ---- Charley’s father was a drummer and a truck driver (and later a piano technician) : Charley Krajchy (b. NYC 1911 – 2001 age 90) ---- He kept the traditional Czech J in his name, whereas, Uncle Walter (his brother) anglicized his name to Taylor ------ Sons of Paul J Krajchy (1875-1954) and Sophia Matoska (1886-1975) immigrants of Czechoslovakia -------- Charley Sr married Rita Stinson in 1937 and had two kids: Charley and Sharon (who wrote the lyrics to “Jazzman’s Serenade” for her brother)(Rita d. 1998) ---- Grandmother Sophie left a little village north of Prague at age 13 with another young girl and made their way to America ------ In photo that’s Charley Senior’s long-time musical partner Freddy Beloin on sax

Note the K on the music stands —- Charley’s father was a drummer and a truck driver (and later a piano technician) : Charley Krajchy (b. NYC 1911 – 2001 age 90) —- He kept the traditional Czech J in his name, whereas, Uncle Walter (his brother) anglicized his name to Taylor —— Sons of Paul J Krajchy (1875-1954) and Sophia Matoska (1886-1975) immigrants of Czechoslovakia ——– Charley Sr married Rita Stinson in 1937 and had two kids: Charley and Sharon (who wrote the lyrics to “Jazzman’s Serenade” for her brother)(Rita d. 1998) —- Grandmother Sophie left a little village north of Prague at age 13 with another young girl and made their way to America —— In photo that’s Charley Senior’s long-time musical partner Freddy Beloin on sax

Charley Krachy, 7th or 8th grade at Hendrick Hudson High School ------------ Watercolor by Ann Watkins of Charley at Lennie Tristano Induction Ceremony, Lincoln Center NYC

Charley Krachy, 7th or 8th grade at Hendrick Hudson High School ———— Watercolor by Ann Watkins of Charley at Lennie Tristano Induction Ceremony, Lincoln Center NYC

Charley on tenor with Peekskill Music Center Orchestra ---- June 1956 – music director Pearlie Griffith in black coat ------ photo: collection of Charley Krachy ------- Further credit to drummer Cal Haines who is photo tech on Jazz For Mostly, and webmaster Klaus Thiemann for laying out the page & sequencing

Charley on tenor with Peekskill Music Center Orchestra —- June 1956 – music director Pearlie Griffith in black coat —— photo: collection of Charley Krachy ——- Further credit to drummer Cal Haines who is photo tech on Jazz For Mostly, and webmaster Klaus Thiemann for laying out the page & sequencing

Charley playing with his dad – 1965 at The Diesel, Peekskill NY

Charley playing with his dad – 1965 at The Diesel, Peekskill NY

1988 Gannett Westchester County Journal News

1988 Gannett Westchester County Journal News

Birdland 1992 + Warne Marsh concert Charley attended

Birdland 1992 + Warne Marsh concert Charley attended

Charley makes the bigtime ---- Sign on dressing room door at Blue Note jazz club NYC ---- March 15, 1993

Charley makes the bigtime —- Sign on dressing room door at Blue Note jazz club NYC —- March 15, 1993

Charley in front of the house where he grew up ---- West End of 9th Street, VerPlanck, New York, with the Hudson River ---- April 6, 2o19 ---- photo by Mark Weber ------- “Improvisation, this is what we live for . . . it’s a passion” –CK on Peekskill television program Living Arts, hosted by Jackie Suarez (you see watch it on YouTube)

Charley in front of the house where he grew up —- West End of 9th Street, VerPlanck, New York, with the Hudson River —- April 6, 2o19 —- photo by Mark Weber ——- “Improvisation, this is what we live for . . . it’s a passion” –CK on Peekskill television program Living Arts, hosted by Jackie Suarez (you see watch it on YouTube)

The house of a tenor saxophonist:  Charley & Peggy built this house in 1972 and have lived there ever since, raising 3 boys: Charlie Jr (Eddie), Desmond (Paul), Todd (Andrew) “They all go by their middle names!” –CK ---- photo by Mark Weber – April 2o19 Garrison NY

The house of a tenor saxophonist:  Charley & Peggy built this house in 1972 and have lived there ever since, raising 3 boys: Charlie Jr (Eddie), Desmond (Paul), Todd (Andrew) “They all go by their middle names!” –CK —- photo by Mark Weber – April 2o19 Garrison NY

Peggy and Charley on their veranda among maples, chestnuts, beech, sycamore, oak (a lot of trees!) and below is Sprout Brook – April 6, 2o19 Garrison NY ---- They were married in 1966 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Peggy and Charley on their veranda among maples, chestnuts, beech, sycamore, oak (a lot of trees!) and below is Sprout Brook – April 6, 2o19 Garrison NY —- They were married in 1966 —- photo by Mark Weber

Charley checking what his fellow fishermen are bringing in ---- “Stripers” (stripe bass season began April 1 ---- and you can’t keep any that are under 19 inches ---- the bass are on migration up from Chesapeake Bay) ---- photo by Mark Weber --- morning of April 6, 2o19 at Fleishman’s Pier ---- that smokestack is Indian Point Atomic Power Plant on the Hudson River

Charley checking what his fellow fishermen are bringing in —- “Stripers” (stripe bass season began April 1 —- and you can’t keep any that are under 19 inches —- the bass are on migration up from Chesapeake Bay) —- photo by Mark Weber — morning of April 6, 2o19 at Fleishman’s Pier —- that smokestack is Indian Point Atomic Power Plant on the Hudson River

Charley showing off battery-powered gadget that opens tin cans ---- That’s a smoothie he juiced for our post-breakfast top-off at his left ----------- Charley is a connoisseur of salad dressing, transcendent, right up there with the excellence of his saxophone playing, here’s his recipe: 1/3 white balsamic vinegar ($53/gal.) mixed 2/3 with Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil Premium Selection and you add your own salt & pepper accordingly ---- photo by Mark Weber ---- April 9, 2o19 home in Garrison

Charley showing off battery-powered gadget that opens tin cans —- That’s a smoothie he juiced for our post-breakfast top-off at his left ———– Charley is a connoisseur of salad dressing, transcendent, right up there with the excellence of his saxophone playing, here’s his recipe: 1/3 white balsamic vinegar ($53/gal.) mixed 2/3 with Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil Premium Selection and you add your own salt & pepper accordingly —- photo by Mark Weber —- April 9, 2o19 home in Garrison

Charley’s home studio (Studio B), Garrison NY w/ his 1965 Selmer Mark VI tenor (SN 102275) and his father’s drumkit – April 6, 2o19 – photo by Mark Weber --------- Charley’s longtime dream is to make a record with strings ----- Charley uses an Otto Link mouthpiece

Charley’s home studio (Studio B), Garrison NY w/ his 1965 Selmer Mark VI tenor (SN 102275) and his father’s drumkit – April 6, 2o19 – photo by Mark Weber ——— Charley’s longtime dream is to make a record with strings —– Charley uses an Otto Link mouthpiece

Kazzrie Jaxen & Charley Krachy windy day in Ellenville NY where we had lunch Tuesday (April 9, 2o19) at Gaby’s Cocina Mexicana & Agave Bar ---- photo by Mark Weber ------- Charley first met Kazzrie in the early 1980s when he was studying improvisation with Lenny Popkin and thus they began weekly sessions ----- John Ford (of Ford Piano, Peekskill) speaking of the Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet: “It’s the true essence of jazz”

Kazzrie Jaxen & Charley Krachy windy day in Ellenville NY where we had lunch Tuesday (April 9, 2o19) at Gaby’s Cocina Mexicana & Agave Bar —- photo by Mark Weber ——- Charley first met Kazzrie in the early 1980s when he was studying improvisation with Lenny Popkin and thus they began weekly sessions —– John Ford (of Ford Piano, Peekskill) speaking of the Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet: “It’s the true essence of jazz”

Two old team mates: Charley Krachy and Virg Dzurinko ---- April 7, 2o19 ---- photo by Mark Weber

Two old team mates: Charley Krachy and Virg Dzurinko —- April 7, 2o19 —- photo by Mark Weber

Gig at Continental Village Clubhouse April 7, 2019 in duet: Charley Krachy, Selmer, and Woody Mann, Monteleone guitar ---- photo by MW

Gig at Continental Village Clubhouse April 7, 2019 in duet: Charley Krachy, Selmer, and Woody Mann, Monteleone guitar —- photo by MW ——————- Here’s excerpt from poem I read that day:

It’s about time the birds
Started flying in the other direction:
Get up to the arctic tundra to raise their babies
Time to lay flowers on the graves
Of our ancestors: Blues of Sophie Matoska
Who at age 13 left her little village north of Prague
And came to America
And now her grandson is playing tenor saxophone
In a little village in the Appalachian Mountains
On a sunny Sunday afternoon
With a guitarist who’s grandparents came from Minsk, Belarus
All those years ago . . . .

The Charley Krachy – Gary Levy Quartet at Mirror Tea House, Gowanus, Brooklyn, April 13, 2o19 – cell phone photo by Nick Lyons ---- w/ Joe Solomon(bass) & Dayeon Seok(drums) ---- Charley & Gary have been playing toether, at least, 30 years

The Charley Krachy – Gary Levy Quartet at Mirror Tea House, Gowanus, Brooklyn, April 13, 2o19 – cell phone photo by Nick Lyons —- w/ Joe Solomon (bass) & Dayeon Seok (drums) —- Charley & Gary have been playing toether, at least, 30 years.


Charly Krachy – Timeline in progress / please click here…

14 Comments

  1. Wow! What a wonderful look at the life and times of Charley Krachy. I’m so glad to have read this. And it was a treat to see you both last week!

  2. Nice Mark…don’t let these musicians be forgotten..thanks

  3. Cheryl Richards

    April 19, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    This is fantastic, Mark!

  4. Charley Krachy

    April 19, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    Mark, Wow, I kind of knew you were taking notes but really had no idea …..This is amazing thanks so much…..now everybody know’s how old I am….some minor corrections…My sister’s name is Sharon….I first heard and met Lenny Popkin on September 9, 1979 in concert with Eddie Gomez and Peter Scattaretico. (wish it would have been sooner) I did not start studying with him until several months later in 1980. I think the 2006 gig at Birdland, Virg was on Piano, not Connie. Just a comment: Most of the KJ Quartet gigs beginning in 2009 were the result of Don’s and Kazzrie’s efforts….Thanks again Mark for your passion and love of this music and the written and spoken word….charley
    The Peekskill Music Center band probably was playing live on air (judging by the microphone (on the stand)…I know we played once a week over the Peekskill Radio station (WLNA) still exists as a local radio station. The Diesel…that was actually at the diesel engine maintenance shop at the Harmon Yards (Croton Harmon) My three sons on the left along with Sharon’s daughter and son. I have no preference–you can leave it the way it is or change it…. I love your title “two old team mates” for the me & Virg pic. The paragraph about Connie…its beautiful and accurate….love how you researched and brought into it the location near 317…(had no idea)…charley

  5. Charley————-I know Virg is the regular (“regular”? NOT Virg!) pianist in this quintessential smoking Quintet but on this date at Birdland Sept 4, 2006 the surviving recording (is there more?) has 6 tunes:
    1. What is this thing
    2. 317 E 32nd Street
    3. Keep the Change
    4. Jazzman’s Serenade
    5. Kary’s Trance
    6. I Remember You

    After Kary’s you announce band members and it’s definitely Connie

  6. Charley Krachy

    April 20, 2019 at 7:25 am

    OK, I guess that was the gig that Virg was out of town….Connie said “I’m subbing for Virg”….I remember asking her to not say that….!!

  7. This is absolutely beautiful and tender, full of love and inspiration . . so much gratitude for life

  8. This is fantastic Mark! I love the photos and finding out things I had know idea of about Charley’s history! What a beautiful tribute to a deep and unique artist!

  9. Frederick Voss

    April 21, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Hey Mark —
    Enjoyed your overview of life and work of Charley Krachy. Your poem, the photos of the musicians, the comments by Charley all worked to give me an appealing picture of a fine musician who loves his improvisation and the jazz tradition and looks like he has lived a full and joyous life.
    thanks for all your fine work Mark
    — Fred

  10. Amazing story and photos, Mark! Charley has been one of my favorite musicians. (Regarding the Czech surname, I have also seen it spelled: “Krejčí”. I have always meant to ask Charley about this.)

  11. Charley Krachy

    April 25, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    How I met Mark Weber: ( to the best of my recollection)

    We had a gig at the Stone, me, Kazzrie and Ratzo Harris….. so, Kazzrie found some place for us to get together for a final session before the performance. It was a rehearsal space in midtown ….it had two pianos.

    Before we started to play, Kazz said to me “This friend of Connie’s asked if he could hang out in the room and listen, I said it would be ok. I looked over and nodded hello to Mark & we started to play.

    When again I looked over, Mark was laying on the floor under the piano…the one that was not being used….

  12. Lynnie Bongiorno

    May 3, 2019 at 1:02 am

    Beautiful and exciting read. Charley is awesome !

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2019 Mark Weber

Theme by Anders Noren adapted for M.etropolis by RavanHUp ↑

Shopping Cart

There are no items in your cart.

Continue Shopping
%d bloggers like this: