Earlier this week, an arrangement of account outlets in New York City appear a cadaverous discovery: The anatomy of a 53-year-old man was begin amphibian in a Queens marina, absolutely clothed, with chains captivated about his legs. The anatomy was noticed by a eyewitness forth the bank of the World’s Fair Berth in Flushing Harbor, a Citi Field, about 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.
A New York Police Department agent accepted those capacity to NPR on Thursday evening, forth with an official cardinal that the afterlife was a suicide, on the base of a agenda larboard behind. The agent additionally accepted the name of the deceased: Michael Panico, of Jackson Heights.
In the news, that name was a simple fact. But it carries amazing resonance for abounding musicians in the beat applesauce community, who apperceive Mike Panico as a co-founder and co-owner of Relative Pitch Records, an absolute almanac characterization with a clue almanac of asperous excellence.
“I am in complete shock,” said pianist Matthew Shipp, cogent the affect of dozens of arresting artists who accept appear albums on the label. Speaking of Panico, Shipp added: “He had a broad, ample ability and aftertaste of music — he had complete account for musicians and the action we went through to accomplish the CDs.”
Relative Pitch is a baby characterization that has fabricated a big appulse in beat and free-improv circles, with added than 65 albums that awning an absorbing ambit of style. Founded by Panico and Kevin Reilly in 2011, the characterization fast became one of a scattering of absolute apparel that anxiously certificate the a scene. That arena is all-around in its drape but aing in its amusing relationships, amplifying the adverse blow of Panico’s death.
The label’s agenda includes some of the best acclaimed artists in the style, like guitarists Mary Halvorson and Susan Alcorn; bassists Joëlle Léandre and Michael Bisio; and saxophonists Evan Parker, Vinny Golia and Matana Roberts. The acclaimed guitarist Bill Frisell is featured on two Relative Pitch releases: Aloof Listen, with bagman Joey Baron, and Golden State, with bassist Greg Cohen.
The best contempo absolution on the characterization is Utter, by saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and bagman Tom Rainey, who accept two antecedent duo albums on the label. In an email, Laubrock said she aftermost saw Panico at one of her performances in New York, two canicule afore his death.
“He smiled and coiled at me, and in hindsight I ambition I had had a moment to allocution to him,” she said. “The account of his afterlife has abashed me to the amount and highlights how little we generally apperceive about bodies we collaborate and assignment with. It makes me apprehend yet afresh that one should not accomplish any assumptions about anyone, and not booty anniversary added for granted.”
Cornetist and artisan Kirk Knuffke, who has fabricated several albums for Relative Pitch, declared Panico as a aing friend. “He and I met all the time for a beer and we would barter CDs,” Knuffke said. “He additionally consistently kept a bag of things he knew I’d like.”
Knuffke added that he and Panico had aloof gone to see an beginning appearance in New York. “And I aloof exchanged texts a few canicule ago because he had aloof produced a Michael Bisio Trio [album] that I played on and we were talking about a new CD of abundance he capital to do.”
Panico formed by day as athenaeum administrator for Sony Music Entertainment, accouterment certificate analysis on projects alignment from André Tchaikowsky’s Complete RCA Anthology Collection, appear this year, to CTI Records: The Cool Revolution, from 2010.
Bruce Gallanter, a co-founder of the Downtown Music Gallery, one of the world’s arch almanac food for beat music, remembered Panico in a agenda to his commitment account on Thursday evening. “It seems so adamantine to accept that he would accomplish suicide aback he had so abounding things to attending advanced to, so abounding projects he was animate up to the aftermost day,” he wrote. “Everyone that knew him well, admired him and admired his absolute spirit.” (Gallanter added acclaimed that he and artisan John Zorn would be putting calm a canonizing concert in the a future.)
Reilly and Panico artificial a band almost a decade ago as volunteers at The Stone, John Zorn’s nonprofit achievement space, which again active a spartan allowance in the East Village. Both were abiding concertgoers with basic tastes, and they absitively to anatomy Relative Pitch as a activity of adulation and a appearance of their alternate enthusiasms.
“I absolutely intend to accumulate the characterization alive,” Reilly said in an email, “but out of call I will be acid aback some. There were two of us, both animate full-time jobs, and the characterization apparently appropriate the assignment of four bodies but we managed to cull it off amid us. But this is absolutely not the end of Relative Pitch by any means. And I accept no agnosticism that he would accept capital our assignment to continue.”
Shipp, like several added musicians I contacted, declared Panico added as a aide than a friend, but emphasized his great affection for, and adherence to, the music. “He consistently seemed absolute about his mission,” Shipp said, “though he was generally bottomward about how adamantine the applesauce bazaar was.”
Knuffke alluded to the aforementioned difficult bazaar conditions: “He was a accurate accepter in music and absitively to alpha a characterization alike at a time aback he knew it wouldn’t accomplish any money.”
Five years ago, Relative Pitch was the accountable of a characterization spotlight in The New York City Applesauce Record, and Panico offered his own thoughts on the subject: “This characterization is addition way to serve the music that we admire.”
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