Born: September 6, 1925 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Eddie Duran was born 75 years ago in San Francisco into a musical family of Mexican heritage. “Our parents loved music and never objected to our following a musical career,” he says. Django Reinhardt was Eddie’s first inspiration, followed by Charlie Christian “He was the big one for electric guitar in a jazz band” Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney and Tal Farlow, who like Eddie, were known for their bright swinging melodicism.
Although he did take a year of lessons, Eddie considers himself and “ear player.” “Music is this spiritual and intangible thing, and you’ve got to feel it coming out of you.” He was a professional at the age of 15, and in the heyday of the San Francisco bebop scene, he played and recorded with such Fantasy stars as Vince Guaraldi, Red Norvo, and Cal Tjader, as well as with Charlie Parker, Stan Getz George Shearing, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Benny Goodman, Pearl Bailey and Barbara Streisand. In the 1980s Eddie recorded three albums as a leader for Concord Jazz Records, two of them nominated for Grammy Awards.
Eddie’s first wife died in 1977. His children were all grown, and his music was his life when, seven years later he met Mad while he was playing at the Cotati Jazz Festival north of San Francisco.
Madaline grew up in Belmont, south of San Francisco, and began playing clarinet when she was ten. “I heard a neighbor playing one and I liked the sound.” While her parents were convinced it was another of Mad’s consuming interests that would soon wane, the clarinet became her obsession. In junior high she added alto saxophone, and tenor in high school. During her senior year she was selected as a member of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s High School All Star Band. “At that point I was a classical player and hadn’t thought of jazz,” she admits. “I was out of my element, but the festival was so exciting, just to be around such greats as Oliver Nelson, John Lewis and Clark Terry.”
From that point jazz was a part of her musical life. She earned her degree in classical music at the University of Miami, but throughout she also played in the college big band and jazz ensembles. Out of college she landed not a musical but a restaurant job, then started a successful wine country catering business, “which is a lot like being a freelance musician.” But at the age of 28, with 18 years devoted to music, she was at a career crossroads and food seemed to have the upper hand. Meeting Eddie at the Cotati Jazz Festival provided the catalyst to choose music. They quickly established a personal and professional partnership, with Mad sitting in at Eddie’s San Francisco area gigs, playing sax and flute, and through his tutoring and encouragement, later becoming a full musical partner with Eddie. Herb Caen wrote in his San Francisco Chronicle column, “Mad Duran is just what jazz needs soul, swing and a breath of femininity.”
Mad and Eddie’s personal and professional bond brings out their shared love for each other and music. As Eddie loves to quip: “It’s a good life. I recommend it.”