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Bambo Kino goes from jazz to country

Bass player Bambo Kino assembled an all-star band to bring musical tributes to his parents to life.

The Boardman musician released “In My Heart Now” on YouTube last week, and a second song, “I Miss You Old Timer,” will be released soon.

“I’ve had these songs for like 15 years,” said Kino, whose real name is Mark Buccilli. “I’d been sitting on them both for years.”

The sentimental, country-tinged “In My Heart Now” was written after his mother’s death, and “I Miss You Old Timer” was penned for his father. “In My Heart Now” is a conversation between a grandfather and his granddaughter, explaining that grandma isn’t alive any longer, but she lives, “In my heart now.” The song takes on an added resonance at a time when the elderly are among those most at risk from the COVID-19 virus.

It’s a a departure from “The Apostle of Hip” and “King Tiger,” the mainstream jazz CDs he’s released in recent years, but not completely out of character for him. Kino spent some time in Nashville and tried to launch a career as a songwriter.

What made him revisit the songs was meeting singer Doug Thomas, who currently performs with several area bands and was a member of I Don’t Care, which was signed to Buddha Records in the mid-’70s.

“His voice is so soulful, so honest,” Kino said.

Thomas suggested bringing in Gary Markasky, who fronts The Gary Markasky Project and was lead guitar player with the Michael Stanley Band. And Kino already worked with pianist Dennis Augusta (a member of the Santana tribute band Evil Ways) and drummer John Sferra (Glass Harp) on his jazz projects.

“These cats were handpicked and it all kind of fell into place,” he said. “I think God wanted it to happen … It was real simple. When you’re dealing with guys like that, you want them to inject themselves into the songs.”

The songs were recorded at Tune Town Studio in Newton Falls with Mike Talanca, and Chris Rutushin of River & Heron Productions was brought in to make the black-and-white video for “In My Heart Now.” The video for “Old Timer” should be released around mid-April

Kino has been encouraged by the response so far to the first song, but he doesn’t have any expectations of it being a hit. And the video probably will be the only opportunity to see the Kino and the other musicians perform the song.

“If something might develop (playing live), I wouldn’t do it without them,” Kino said. “The chemistry is so good. We had a riot making those videos. I wouldn’t want to mess up the chemistry. It would have to be a decent offer to be worth all the effort.”

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