Charles Ottaviano

Owner of jazz nightclub in Van Nuys

Charles Ottaviano, 66, whose intimate Van Nuys nightclub Charlie O’s developed a loyal following of jazz enthusiasts, died of a heart attack Monday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, said his wife of 26 years, Jo-Ann. He lived in Granada Hills.

“I always wanted to have a jazz room, ever since I moved out here from Buffalo [N.Y.] in 1960,” Ottaviano told The Times in 2001. “My father was a musician, and I started to play when I was very young.”


He said he decided to transform the neighborhood restaurant he opened in 1987 into a jazz hangout in 2000.

At first, Charlie O’s featured two veteran artists who led their own trios -- legendary session drummer Earl Palmer, who died in September, and John Heard, who played bass for Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.

The “amiable jazz tavern,” as jazz reviewer Don Heckman wrote last year in The Times, eventually offered live jazz seven nights a week and became known for its roster of session musicians.

Born Jan. 3, 1942, in Batavia, N.Y., Ottaviano was the son of a big-band leader and his wife. He learned to play the tenor saxophone and later took up the bass when he and his brothers formed a jazz trio.

In 1960, Ottaviano followed family members west. He owned a construction company and two other San Fernando Valley clubs before opening Charlie O’s on Victory Boulevard west of Woodman Avenue.

Regulars said Charlie O’s featured the kind of jazz “you’re more likely to find on L.A.'s most famous music strip,” Sunset Boulevard, according to a 2005 article in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

The club will remain open.

-- Times staff reports