Some Comments about Charlie from Mike Stern

The following excerpt from an interview with Mike Stern appeared in Oregon Music News, 17 February 2017

Are you still studying with anyone?

I’m always studying. I’m not studying with anybody. Charlie Banacos was a guy I studied with for years; a great piano player who would just teach theory and different ways of learning harmony and different scales and all that stuff. He used to teach that to all instruments, including guitar players. So I was studying with him for years. He died about four years ago, I think.

He was amazing - an inspiration. The thing that came out of him was that the effort was the most important thing. It wasn’t even how well you played; it was about going for it. I loved that about him. And he taught that to all his students, no matter their level. It was a really beautiful way of saying something that is so important.

But since then, I haven’t studied with anybody. I’m thinking about studying with Garry Dial, a piano player who teaches all of Charlie’s stuff. He studied with Charlie for years, and he got a lot of stuff - even stuff they hadn’t covered - from Charlie’s wife. So, I’m thinking about that. He’s a friend of mine and a really good piano player. So I think I probably will.

But I’m always learning - I’m always trying to. I feel like I don’t know shit after all these years. It’s just an endless journey; a more-you-know, the less-you-know kind of thing. But I love it.