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The Pickle Mafia jazz trio brings 'arena jazz fusion' home to Santa Cruz

Jazz Trio The Pickle Mafia.
Pickle King Productions
Jazz Trio The Pickle Mafia. Bassist Ben Chilbert [L], pianist Charlie Lindner [center] and drummer Marco Ciriliagno {r}

The Pickle Mafia consists of pianist and Santa Cruz resident Charlie Lindner, bassist Ben Chilbert and drummer Marco Ciriliagno. The band name recalls the trio's time making pickles before they could make a living off their music.

"During the pandemic, we really legitimately made thousands and thousands of jars of pickles to survive," said Lindner. "That was a thriving pickle business for a while, until the booking came back."

Now that the booking has come back, the trio is putting their pickle business on the backburner as they tour up and down the California coast, promoting their most recent album "Pass the Gabagool!"

They’re making a stop here in Santa Cruz at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center this weekend. Lindner recently came by the KAZU studio to play some songs from the album and to demonstrate the trio’s unique sound, which they describe as "arena jazz fusion."

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 Charlie Lindner: This is from the middle of one of our tunes called “Tale of the Pub."

Charlie plays a segment of "Tale of the Pub"

"Tale of the Pub" by The Pickle Mafia from their album "Pass the Gabagool."
"Pass the Gabagool!", the most recent album by The Pickle Mafia

DM: That’s so cool. What about “Trio de Janeiro,” the opening track. I like that. It has like a ‘bossa nova’ vibe.

CL: Oh yeah. Let’s see—

Charlie plays the opening from “Trio de Janeiro.”

"Trio de Janeiro," the opening track from The Pickle Mafia's "Pass the Gabagool!"
Lindner performing "Trio de Janeiro" in the KAZU studio

CL: That was inspired by Chick Corea.

Charlie plays a sample of Chick Corea’s “Spain.”

DM: Is that Chick Corea?

CL: Yeah. That’s “Spain” by Chick Corea. So we wanted to do our own tribute to Chick Corea because he passed last year. So the head of “Trio de Janeiro” is:

Charlie plays sample of “Trio de Janeiro” opening.

DM: Cool. So, if you had a ‘vibe’ for KAZU, what do you think that would be like?

CL: A ‘vibe’ for here?

DM: Yeah...I don’t want to put you on the spot.

CL: No, no. I love being put on the spot. Let me see what I can come up with:

Charlie creates a piano tune for KAZU on the spot!

Lindner playing his piano in the KAZU studio.
Dylan Music/KAZU
Lindner playing his piano in the KAZU studio.

DM: That’s really beautiful. It sound like a serious NPR kind of ‘newsy’ vibe.

CL: I’m gettin’ a vibe off the walls.

DM: Oh, yeah,we have our padding. It’s like a padded cell {Laughter}....maybe that’s what you were picking up on.

Santa Cruz resident Charlie Lindner and the other two members of The Pickle Mafia will be bringing their unique brand of ‘arena jazz fusion’ to the Kuumbwa this Sunday at 7pm.