Family and friends reflect on the life of Berks jazz legend Sam Marabella | Berks regional news


READING, Pennsylvania – The adopted son of the late Sam Marabella of Reading looks back on a long life of service to his country, his family and the music community of Berks County and beyond.

“To me, he was the model of what a man is really meant to be,” Santo Marabella said. “He was always respectful to my mother, to women. He was welcoming to everyone. He always wanted to tell jokes.”

The eldest Marabella died last week at the age of 95. He has become known as the man behind the keys as a songwriter and conductor for weddings, parties and countless longtime events across the county.

“I think that’s what really turned me on, it’s the relationships that they all collaborated with and they all made this music together,” Santo Marabella said. “And people were happy because of it.”

His musical impact, especially in jazz, earned him a Berks Jazz Fest award named after his close friend and fellow musician.

“We were amazed at the depth of his resume,” said his friend John Ernesto, general manager of Berks Jazz Fest. “It was amazing. And we were so happy that the committee got together and voted unanimously for Sam to be the recipient of the 2018 Frank Scott Award.”

“Dreams come true; they don’t always look what we thought they were going to,” was a slogan for a musical that Santo Marabella wrote loosely about his father’s life.

“Maybe he thought he was supposed to be on the road or that he was supposed to play in Johnny Carson’s band, or whatever,” he said, “but he had to do everything even if he had daytime work. “

Among many memories, Santo Marabella recalls a hope his father had expressed years ago regarding the legacy he would leave behind.

“He said, ‘Music has been good for me – I just hope people will remember me as good for music.'”


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