Charles Kaljikian Lake

Charles Kaljikian Lake

“The Whale”

August 31, 1928 – March 12, 2022

94 Years! A Life Well Lived

How many people in life can we think of that are synonymous with a single name?

Dizzy, Zoots, Miles, Bags and the Count, just a few that immediately come to mind. 

Like his contemporaries Charlie Lake, manager, producer, “mover and shaker” is part of jazz history in New England and beyond!

As a budding trumpeter himself, one of Charlie’s first gigs in jazz was “band boy” for Basie. The Count christened Charlie, “The Whale,’ for now and evermore! 

One name that said it all… “larger than life!”

A loving father to sons Paul and Michael, commitment to family was his passion, passed down from father Paul and his mother Julia.

Whale would regale family members, cousin “Dr Paul” Barsam and his wife Joyce, sister in law Diane, and niece Sasha with “tales from the road of worldwide travel! 

Long before the internet and well into his retirement years, Whale continued to be the “networker” always connecting the dots for the next, concert, tour or recording date for a long list of “who’s who” in the jazz universe.

Time and distance are what memories are built of, but all that coming and going does make the soul call out for “longer intermissions!”

Time to “take five” and enjoy, family and friends that had accompanied him on this wonderful journey.

And so, it was Anna came back into Charlies life in a big way!

Caring, and devoted the lovely and gracious “Lady Anna,” took Charlie into her arms and into her home.

There is no greater gift than love! 

Anna poured caring love on Charlie, tending to his every need for years to come.

With the “roadie support team” of Marianne and her husband Kenny, Anna kept the “wheels on the tour bus and the show went on!”

Celebrated in 2017, Dizzy’s 100th Birthday at the Kennedy Center, Eisenhower Theater, Whale was invited to attend the event as an honored guest arranged by longtime friend, Ginny Cooke.

A fitting event to cap an exciting, lifelong “set list” of peoples, places and the ever-present pulse of jazz!

In his sleep… quiet and peaceful… Charlie “The Whale” Lake passed on through to the other side, with the strains of “Night in Tunisia” riffing through his mind.

The former road manager for Buddy, Dizzy, Scott Hamilton and many more jazz luminaries… has played his last chorus here with us on this earthly orb.

Now he will lead a band of heavenly heavyweights and in time we all will be bopping to the swinging angels of jazz!

Of the many “pearls of Whale wisdom,” two stand out the most…

“Always have a backup…” and “do the right thing!”

In life and in the world of jazz, Charlie “The Whale,” Lake was our back up 

and he always did… “the right thing!”

And like any good jazz album liner notes… 

Immense, love and thanks to Boston jazz radio guru, Ron Della Chiesa and his wife Joyce for always “aiding and abetting” Charlie, in all of his projects.

Charlie and those of us on “Team Whale,” have greatly appreciated your talents and support though these many years!

A whale size “shout out” to long-time friend and author David Brown from your old friend Charlie!

A special “thank you” to the great bassist Marshall Woods and his “songbird” wife Donna. Your friendship and professional connection were glowing stars in Charlie’s jazz constellation! 

Life is good God is great!  Celebrate every moment!

Rick Trainer

“Band Boy for Buddy Rich,” and forever thankful for the great love and friendship of Charlie “The Whale” Lake!

“Whale On!”

Charlie is survived by His first cousin Paul C. Barsam M.D. his wife Joyce L. Barsam as well as their children Julie Barsam-Cummings and family , Charles Barsam and family and Ara Barsam and family. He is also survived by his cousin Rose Tufankjian and her daughter Karen Aharonian and her family.  


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4 Condolences

  1. Marianne on March 16, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    Dearest Charles, we miss you and love you

  2. Charles Barsam on March 20, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    To a beloved uncle Who never forgot a birthday despite his worldly travels. To an uncle who was committed to species conservation before it was en vogue. To an uncle who knew how to connect on a deep and personal level with each individual he Interacted with. To an uncle who made summers and Cape Cod memorable for a lifetime. I will forever love and miss you.

  3. You Know Who on June 24, 2022 at 10:59 pm

    The Whale. I miss him. He was one of my buddies that I could call any time day or night, and he always answered the phone, and if he didn’t…”hello. You’ve reached Charles Keljikian of Whale Productions. If you’re like to chat, leave a message after the tone, or to send a fax, just tickle that star button. Peace, and Whale on.”

  4. David G. Brown on October 25, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    Met Charlie and “Birks” in 1985. It became a friendship that lasted till the very end. I have so many fantastic memories with them, I could write a book. Every time we were together was an event. The music, the food, the hilarious as well as serious conversations, meeting fascinating people; all moments to never forget. Charlie was and always will be a brother. So thankful to have such special friends. Love you Charlie.

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