This is the part of the site where you can add any reminiscence or anecdote about Warne Marsh. Contact me at the link on the Home page.
From John Mathieu:
I saw Warne together
with Lee Konitz at Ronnie Scott's in London in early 1976. He was,
as I'm sure you know, outstanding. Later this month I am going to a
tribute concert in Manhattan for Art Pepper. I am 68 now but still going
strong and listening to live jazz. I have to say... Warne was one hell
of a great tenor and I will never forget hearing him live.
John Mathieu. 10 February 2016
I first knew Warne around 1962. The first time I heard about him was when a friend of mine played an album of Lee Konitz and Warne. It knocked me out. I don't remember when I first met Warne, but I saw him at many places where he played in L.A. I remember one time I saw him in Pasadena, playing with an alto man. It was very hot and in between tunes he played about 10 or 12 bars of "Heat Wave", which showed a sense of humor.
Warne was very soft spoken. He came over to my apartment with Buddy Clark, a bass player, on a motor scooter, about one hour's ride from North Hollywood. I was at a party at his place when some musicians from New York showed up. They had never heard of Warne. When he pulled out his horn and joined in the session their jaws dropped. He played so much, they couldn't believe it. The last time I saw him was at Donte's in North Hollywood. That is about all I remember as it was a long time ago.
Robert DeHay. Atlanta, Georgia. 31 May 2015.
I don't make it a habit of writing to unknown e-mail addresses and I have nothing substantial to contribute to your website other than the memories I have of seeing and hearing Warne Marsh at Donte's, in North Hollywood, along with Med Flory, Jack Nimitz, Conte Candoli, et al. in "Supersax" in the early 1970s. I ate up the "Crosscurrent" recordings with Tristano and Konitz (who I saw twice in my life), which I first discovered, also in the early 70s, and the famous Konitz/Marsh recording of 1955 I have in my record library. Strangely enough, I heard Marsh with Supersax before I discovered the "Crosscurrent" recordings, but my perception of his playing was always the same: pristine purity, a forward driving virtuosity, crystal-like lines, slim and purposeful, might also be a description I would use. I have always had a great admiration for Marsh, as for Konitz, and I was fortunate to see him (Marsh) one last time, playing in a small concert in Stuttgart, Germany in the 1980s with the famous Austrian tenor saxophonist, Hans Koller.
I would be most happy to hear from you and, though we've never met, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Earl Rosenbaum. Stuttgart, Germany. (formerly residing near Los Angeles, CA) 21 December 2014.
visitors to this website will recognise the name
Larry Kart. Larry has been writing about
jazz and other music for many years including for Down
Beat magazine and the Chicago Tribune, together with
his book "Jazz in Search of Itself". Of
particular note here are his writings on Warne
Marsh. He wrote the booklet enclosed with the
Mosaic boxed CD set "The Complete Atlantic Tristano,
Konitz and Marsh" and also the liner notes for the the
Nessa Records release of "All Music".
Great site — many thanks.
In that Don
Specht anecdote about Warne playing on the slow
theme from the fourth movement from Bartok’s
Concerto for Orchestra,
IV. "Intermezzo interrotto". Allegretto.
The fourth movement, "Intermezzo interrotto" (literally "interrupted intermezzo"), consists of a flowing melody with changing time signatures, intermixed with a theme parodying the song "Da geh' ich zu Maxim" from Franz Lehár's operetta The Merry Widow, as the composer's pianist friend György Sándor has made clear. The later idea that Bartók was ridiculing the march tune in Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad" came from a misinterpreted claim by the composer's son Peter. It is much more likely, however, that both composers were parodying Lehár's universally popular song.”
Also, John Bianculli refers to a talented fellow student of Warne, tenorman “Greg Martin.” That probably should be Greg Marvin, who recorded for Criss Cross.
Best, Larry Kart.
Highland Park, Ill. 15 December 2014.
Los Angeles writer on Jazz matters, Kirk Silsbee, has sent me a copy of his Journal 20, Vol. 13, published some years ago which I found of great interest and I'm certain visitors to this web site will too. Thanks Kirk. 1st. June 2014.
Kirk Silsbee’s Journal 20
“I met Warne Marsh in 1966. Lou Ciotti, who plays tenor with Les Brown, got us together. I was playing some commercial gig with Lou and he mentioned that he had just seen Warne. I was already a big fan of his and I called him up.
I was playing a dance gig and they were short a tenor player; the leader told me to show up with ‘a body in a tux.’ I asked Warne if he was doing anything that night and would he like to make fifty dollars. He said sure.
I remember we were playing a medley of tunes where each guy would get up, call a number to the pianist and solo. One of the trumpet players called a tune that nobody had heard before. It was the kind of tune that took some doing to listen to. But Warne just listened to this guy play his solo and, based on that, he had the tune and its chord structure all figured out. Then Warne stood up and played a fantastic solo on this thing. And afterward he told me he’d never heard it before.
I should say that I never heard a horn player with as much force as Warne had. I mean, there were a lot of strange things about him: he had small hands and he wasn’t a big, barrel-chested player, but he had an incredible command of the instrument. Yeah—I guess you could call that a visceral thing. Pete Christlieb has that, too--that ‘jungle communication’ of so much raw talent. With both of those guys you know you’re in the presence of something magical.
And in ’67, Warne and I were in Clare Fischer’s band with Ciotti and Bud Shank and a bunch of guys. Then Warne went back to New York; there was always that magnetic New York thing. Later on, Lennie beckoned in ’77; he thought it might be the right time for Warne to go to New York.
Warne was the kind of player you could be in awe of forever and ever. With a lot of players you get to the point where you know just about what they’re going to play before they play it—if you’re around them for any length of time. But Warne continually surprised you. It was pure improvising.
A great solo is no accident. It comes from knowing the material so well that when you improvise, it’s all intuitive. That’s why when I play in public, I don’t like to have to read anything. I’ll take the time to learn an Alan Broadbent tune or a Clare Fischer tune before I solo on it.
You know that Warne wrote some of the Supersax arrangements? Yeah, but they didn’t like his arrangements because he didn’t write the unison lines that they always played. The baritone parts always kind of angled in; the baritone was always a renegade in his charts.” –Gary Foster, 12/29/87
I just ran across a fragment of an anecdote on a recorded practice session
with bass player, Eric Von Essen. Eric quoted a musician (probably a
pianist) who played with Warne, that Warne called a tune in Ab but he thought
he had said Eb, and they started playing in different
keys but Warne heard it and switched to the other key in the space of one
This the first time
I have seen this web site about the musical career of Warne Marsh. Thank
you so much for starting it up.... every one who has written in have comments
about his music, I hope it will be OK to hear a little about his life growing
up in North Hollywood.
Our mother, who was a musician before her marriage, gave Warne his first instrument, a piano accordion, he had already mastered the piano in the living room. He strapped the instrument on, fiddled around with it for about ten minutes, then started to play music like he had been practicing for years. He was about nine or ten years old at the time. I don't think there was a musical instrument made that he couldn't pick up and play.
By the time he was in junior high school he had settled down to the alto saxophone, a couple of years later he switched to the tenor. His junior high music teacher wanted him to try out for the Los Angeles all city orchestra, they had enough sax players but they could use a bass clarinet, so mother bought him a bass clarinet, he practiced for a couple of days, went down and tried out for the band and was accepted.
Warne's room became a recording studio (mother bought him a recording machine) so I was used to the all night sessions with some of the boys who would later become the big names in the musical world.
So Warne became known in the musical world and fulfilled our mother's dream, and our sister, Gloria, was to become a very talented and successful artist, and I took after our father who was a prominent cinematographer at MGM studios, and had my career as a cameraman.
Regards, Owen Marsh. July 27th. 2013.
Hi, first of all I'm not a musician, I can't read music, I can't play anything and, last but not least, I'm Italian so ..... sorry for my poor English!
But I think I can (and I like) listen to music very carefully and from 25 years ago my music is jazz (I'm forty-seven). By the way I think that nowadays it's difficult listening to something that's really new or exciting: according to me jazz should be still rhythm and improvisation, that is something you don't expect when you start listening. And here, therefore, Mr. Warne Marsh, surely one of the most important saxophonist and jazz musician "tout court" of the past century, the man whose warm (not "cool"!) sound is always a touching surprise for me (never boring like often Coltrane's, Rollins' or Getz's music is...).
So, I must congratulate for your website that's really a "benchmark" for everybody who likes Marsh's music and tries to collect almost everything he recorded. By the way, I really don't understand why many tracks are still unissued (for instance, songs from "L.K. meets W.M. again" or from "Report from 1st annual Symposium...") or impossible to find (for instance, "For the time being" or "W.M meets Gary Foster"): too many private tapes only for a few people's pleasure!
Last of all, my best wishes for your "web work" and thank you very much for your passion.
Riccardo Dagnino, Sicily, Italy. 30th. April 2012.
Fred Born – West Milford, New Jersey, USA. April 4th. 2012.
saw Warne with Supersax at a high school jazz festival in 1979 in northern
California and as a fledgling sax player, was blown away. I got to
talk to Warne after the show and asked him how do you play like that, all wide
eyed and in awe, and his kind and gentle reply was "10 years or 10,000 hours...
whatever comes first," then he gave me an autograph. That was a long time
ago but one of my best jazz memories, and I still remember how his solos that
day changed my look at how the horn was played. He was very powerful.
I recently received an email from Los
Angeles based jazz writer Kirk Silsbee quoting an unpublished letter written by
composer Don Specht in January 1990. In this, Specht wrote about playing with
Warne Marsh and Kirk has kindly given me permission to add this letter to the
Warne Marsh web site. Kirk has also provided the thumbnail below, on Don
Warne and I met in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, through Buddy Clark, the bass player. He had a casual dance gig and needed a piano (me) and one horn (Warne). We hit it off. Warne had a great fey sense of humor and knew the Tristano Kids were not held in high favor by the Bebop Boys. So he was not only impressed that I was a bopper who loved Bud Powell, but that I also knew Tristano’s 1945 Keynote sides: “Out on a Limb,” “I Can’t Get Started,” etc.
I also liked to play chess and Scrabble, which were passions of his. Warne was close to being a master in chess, but we were fairly even in Scrabble. He hated to lose, and if you won, he insisted on “just one more game.” That could go on if he didn’t win. There were very few of those occasions!
Warne used to come over to my tiny bed-sitter at 1552 ¼ on narrow, steep Lucretia Avenue in Echo Park. It almost became a gig for him: show up about 9 P.M., have a drink or two, buckle on his horn, and away we would go for at least two hours. It was just like a club date. Weird we were, playing sets! He liked my “arranger’s piano”--no frills, no florid runs, just solid changes. Early on he made a point of saying, “Can you cut out all those hip substitutions? I’ll play those; you just feed me the basic changes and I’ll play on top of it. Listen to how Lennie does it.”
This began a long friendship, which survived Warne opening a bottle of champagne and blowing out a window with the cork. With his analytical mind, he calculated the odds of hitting the exact trajectory again. Warne was very good with electronics and worked as a repairman for quite a while in the 1960s. Problem solving is a major key to understanding him—whether in music, games or electronics. He just couldn't solve the problems in his personal relations.
As I said, we treated my apartment as a club date, and after the “gig” we would get some take-out food and sit at a table playing chess or Scrabble until the wee hours. Or we would alternate between blowing and games. I knew all the Tristano Capitol sides, the ones with Lee and Warne. So we played those and we would play Lee’s lines. You can imagine the panic I had getting through “Wow,” especially the bridge! Whoooooeeee! Somehow we got through it and cracked up laughing when we totally screwed something up.
Warne always wanted a challenge. You couldn’t sit back, relax and play the same thing night after night. My favorite story came about from nothing more than incipient boredom. Warne said, “Christ! Isn’t there some other ballad we could play?! Something we haven’t put through the wringer?!” I started noodling, strictly from left field, and he said, “I know that; can’t we make a ballad out of it?” It was the slow theme from the fourth movement of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, the send-up of Tchaikovsky. He probably loved Bartok more than any other composer. Well, we fiddled around with it for about an hour. We took the opening motif and welded that on, worked through some other bits and pieces and ended up with a damn curious—but marvelous—“ballad.” Fade out and now dissolve to one of the in-type L.A. jazz clubs, with all the hipsters—the Miles and Sonny coterie--hanging around. The leader of the house band played piano and was not wont to let other piano players sit in, but Warne—that was another matter. He was hip, man! I don’t recall why we went; we probably had too much to drink at my apartment and decided to find a session somewhere to whip out our polished musical wares. We did that on rare occasions when my stage jitters didn’t bother me. I mean, who the hell was going to get up there and play the bridge of “Wow” with Warne Marsh?! Anyhow, Warne played a set but I can’t remember the other horn players that night. Although Dr. Jazz, the house pianist, held court most of the night, Warne asked, “When is Don going to sit in, man?” When hell froze over, I guessed. Finally, the leader asked Warne to play a ballad! “What do you want to blow?” Warne thought, looked at me, turned to the guy and said, “Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.” End of story except, as you may have guessed, I did get up there and we played our tune. It blew everybody away and left Dr. Jazz nonplussed, but quiet as a mouse fart. I have never played that tune with anyone else, and haven’t even thought of it for years. Warne called it “Bartok’s Ballad.”
The years went by and we fell away from the blowing days. I got married, he got married. He went back to New York for a while and I fell into the limpid pools of television, writing a lot of greenback music. Of course, when we saw each other that was another story. But the bloom had gone, the roses faded, and we got old.
Ironically Warne died in Donte’s, playing “Out of Nowhere,” one of the tunes we had played together 30 years before. Buddy Clark was the bass player that night; I was at home when Buddy phoned. There was no thunderclap as with Beethoven, but I could hear a sardonic laugh somewhere out there: “Let’s play this in another key, man.”
Don Specht, January 30, 1990
Thank you so much for collecting
and making available so much information about this great musician. I have been
a fan since cutting my musical ears on the great Lennie Tristano quintette, back
in the early 50's. It is hard to believe that Warne has been dead now for 23
years. One of my favourite combinations was Warne and Susan Chen. Their empathy
was palpable. I have kept track of Susan who is now in San Francisco.
Unfortunately I have been unable to track down their duo recording.
(Note by JG. - David's Dad was the late Pete Chilver, who played guitar with the Ted Heath band, George Shearing, Ralph Sharon and many others.)
I just spent nine days on the Lower East Side at a club called The Stone where Connie Crothers was curating a two-week series of music, at the corner of 2nd Street and Avenue C where they all converge at Houston (in NY it's pronounced House-ton). And Bud Tristano (Lennie's son) (age 50 now and looks 35!) told me that Peter Ind's studio was just down the street at 223 East Second Street, where those two great Wave albums of Warne's were recorded, and the CD version has your photo of Warne & Peter. I realize now the significance of Peter Ind's pastel painting of the Williamsburg Bridge on the cover (!) because one afternoon, saxophonist Richard Tabnik and I walked over the bridge from Connie's studio in Williamsburg over to the Lower East Side -- the bridge touches down on the Manhattan side only blocks from Peter's recording studio of those days! Perfect.
--Mark Weber, Albuquerque. 7th. October 2009
As a footnote to the Marsh gig, I smuggled in a small primitive cassette player. After the first number - "It's You or No One" - Warne strolled over to our table, and I thought I was going to get a ticking off for recording him. Instead he politely asked if the sound was ok. I still have a very poor copy of that recording which is now incomplete.
In my humble opinion he really took jazz forward from Bird, and was as important as Coltrane!
Anyhow, Bless You for setting up the site!
V Best Wishes
Warne Marsh and Lou Levy toured Europe in March/April 1983, the tour
organiser, Gerry Teekens, chose, as bass player, Jesper Lundgaard who was
very well known and a drummer few had heard of before, James Martin.
When Warne and Lou finished the continental Europe tour to appear in London,
they left behind both Lundgaard and Martin and played in a duo and then a
quartet setting in London before heading back to the U.S. in mid May.
Obviously, having spent quite a considerable time asking around for the whereabouts of this gifted drummer, I couldn’t let things end there and so I replied to James asking him about his career, and in particular, his playing with Warne. He has kindly allowed me to add the following story, with pictures, from that memorable tour.
I had a recent exchange of emails with Ted Brown, and I mentioned the Lennie Tristano line on “How High The Moon” which Lennie named “Lennie-Bird”. Ted had an anecdote (one of his many anecdotes) for this as follows:
"When Lennie wrote that line, he had no regard for a horn player's need to take a breath once in a while. That was the same problem with Lennie's line on "See You In My Dreams" where the last 16 bars had no space whatsoever for a breath. When Warne and I played that we worked it out so I would omit a couple notes in one place and he would do the same in another place so we could each grab a quick breath but there would never be a break in the sound. But with just one horn that is tough".
All the best, Ted July 21, 2009
Thanks for the website.
My name is Joel Fass. I am a guitarist-composer living in Yonkers, NY, and on the local jazz scene for well nigh 30 years. I've been fortunate to rub shoulders with many wonderful improvisers---the tribal chieftains of this music----and Warne Marsh was one of these.
One of my oldest friends is Jared Bernstein. He is well-known as an economist now, and is Joe Biden's chief economic advisor. But years ago he was a bassist in NY. He shared an apartment with a pianist named Rob Schneiderman (also a mathematician!). They had sessions all the time in the 80s and one day, likely at the behest of Rob, Warne came over. We were young players. Rob was 25, I think. I was an old man at 28. I remember they ('they' not being Warne, let me be clear) made me wait in the other room while they played quartet for a while in Rob's room---which, you might imagine, made me feel weird. I kept hearing great sounds in there---mostly from Warne---and was dying to play. Finally I went in and remember vividly what he played, and the tunes we played (this was 1982!). Warne had a totally individual rhythmic concept, which fit him like a glove. In describing him and that day, and I have a few times, just as I've recalled a very few other special days of my musical life, I've somehow been drawn to compare him to the great Brazilian singer Elis Regina: ahead of the beat but totally secure & never rushing. He was totally free and I felt he didn't want to be tethered to a pulling chord instrument like the piano. I also thought a lot about Bird, not to compare them. I just did is all. The thing is I felt I was involved with a special and rare creative mind and soul that day. His lines were thrilling and I felt the presence of greatness----a feeling I've rarely felt in my career to date.
On break Warne smoked reefer out of a pipe and philosophized. Well, we all did, and I remember he did not preach or talk down to us younguns. He was hangin' with the cats, that's all. I remember one of his musings like it was yesterday: 'the reason men go out and start wars is jealousy over women---the fact that they can't create life by bearing children'.
If the readers will forgive me a moment's prideful self-indulgence I also will share one of the nicest---not to mention the succinctest----compliments I've ever gotten as a musician, especially one as rare as Warne. We finished playing and Warne was putting his horn away. I was packing up and the bandstand had cleared, all to go our separate ways to the next leg of the journey. Warne turned to me, looked with piercing blue eyes right at me, and said:
"Yeah, man. What's your name?"
Joel Fass. Yonkers, NY. March 17th. 2009.
I was a
jazz improvisation student of Warne’s in the early ‘70’s. I was a bebop
jazz guitarist and was studying with Warne and Joe Pass at the time. So
many stories. Just a couple….. I remember going over to his house in
Pasadena for lessons. During a break he would have the chess board out,
drinking and listening to Supersax recordings on his headphones – at the
same time. I remember when he performed at Donte’s with Supersax and when
he started to solo, and circular breath, everyone on the stage just stepped
back, Med Flory’s jaw dropped and they all just looked transfixed waiting to
hear what would come next. I started taking lessons with Warne at the music
store that Gary Foster was working at in Pasadena on Colorado Blvd. I had
just taken Gary’s class at Pasadena City College (same time that all the Van
Halen guys were there). Putter Smith (bassist – who also managed a role in
a James Bond movie and insisted that they pay for his entire family to go
over to Europe with him otherwise he wouldn’t take the part…..) would come
by to play from time to time. Warne had a jazz improv class and was
convinced that his method would allow ones improvisational abilities to
reveal themselves……and they did.
I studied with Warne while he was living in Pasadena. My lessons took place in a small building behind his main home, during the years of 1976 thru 1979.
His method of "slow improvisation", by playing the melody of a song at a very slow tempo, and each time through the song, change the melody a little at a time, was my main work with Warne. By playing the melody, the chord changes became apparent, and there was no need to read the changes! He told me to come back in 3 months and I did what he told me to. When I returned, he said I was one of the few players that was able to accomplish this task correctly.
The only other work I did with him was to listen to and study Charlie Parker.
I am an alto player, but double on all of the saxophones, flutes, and clarinet. I am considered the most melodic player around.
Rob Elinson, Oceanport, New Jersey. April 16, 2008
Following the recent addition to the Photo Gallery of the fine photos by Mark Weber of the Warne Marsh - Harold Land Quintet taken at the Hyatt Hotel, Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles back in April 1985, I've received the following message:
It was really wonderful to see actual photos of this rare session after all these years, as I actually attended that performance. I recall it as a really scintillating collaboration, and one of the occasions when Warne just pulled out all the stops and played miraculous solos all evening. Two great historical tenors from Los Angeles in intense interplay! It was something else.
Harold Land was a great and serious improviser and a wonderful tenor stylist who played with some of the greatest players: Wes Montgomery, Clifford Brown, Max Roach; all of these giants are deceased now. That he was able to collaborate with Warne Marsh with the wonderful rhythm section of Gildo Mahones, Bob Maize and Tootie Heath on this night was truly an event. As I recall it, the music was superb and full of deep feeling from start to finish. That it was not recorded is unfortunate, but how excellent that this admirable occasion is at least memorialized visually.
Warne indeed played brilliantly, and I think he was very happy to play with these musicians; it was an exceptional night for all concerned, and a great jazz set.
I'm so grateful that these pictures exist, that seems very magical to me.
Charles Coffman. Venice, California. September 14th. 2007.
I used to sit in once in a while with Warne and his guys while I was a Tristano student and it was exhilarating and we would swing like mad and he just played so beautiful behind me with improvised licks that just pushed you. Anyway, he invited me to sing with the band at a posh club on the east side of the city. The first person I saw was Jacob Javits and that put me away. I couldn't sing a note and the owner of the club turned off my mike and even my date left without me. I was so destroyed. Warne asked me to the next jam session he had and he said "We have to let Bob redeem himself". I wailed and was restored but the thought of bombing that bad still plagues me. That was one of the kindest things that ever happened to me as he had the depth to understand how I was suffering.
Bob Sachs. Dania, Florida. October 13th. 2006.
aware of Warne during my college years in the 1960s. Somebody played the old
Tristano sides with Warne & Lee Konitz where they did “Wow” and I thought about
giving up the horn right then and there. Later, I heard that recording Warne did
with Lee that included “Topsy” and “Background Music” and was hooked for life!
It's nice that there are people out there who like to listen to Warne Marsh, I thought at one stage is was just me. He is an extremely inventive musician.
Unfortunately the current trend seems to produce Coltrane clones, who seem to be paid by the note.
Good luck with your continuing work.
Mike Weinblatt. High Wycombe, England. 26th. June 2006.
I only saw Warne play one
time, at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago in the early '80s. We weren't sure if
the house drummer Wilbur Campbell would be right for Warne, but it worked
just fine. By the time the third set started, it was the wee hours of the
morning, and fewer than a dozen of us were left in the club. Warne closed
his eyes and played his heart out, chorus after chorus of "vertical
improvisation," always finding another tale to weave. I think he identified
with the late-night diehards, those of us who would play music or listen to
it until we dropped.
Mike Stillman, Chicago. May 31st. 2006.
I just wanted to share a
very wonderful experience I had with Warne and his family. Back around 1981 or
early 1982 I was sharing a house in Long Beach Long Island with a very fine and
dedicated musician by the name of Frank Leonetti. I had gone to my lesson
earlier in the week and Warne said that he was looking for a place to live for
himself and his family. I told him about Long Beach and that it was a great
place in the summer but cold in the winter. He asked if I would mind if he came
by to check it out…I said No Problem and on that Sunday he came by with his wife
and two sons. He took Frank and I to lunch and after that we had an impromptu
Jam Session. Warne played a very old Alto that I used and made it sound like a
new horn. The other guys at that session were Richie Califano and Ed Sorensen
and I think my friend Neil Jacobsen played drums. It was so fine to hear Warne.
Around 1971 or 1972 Warne was living in North Hollywood.
Bob DeHay. Atlanta, GA. December 14th. 2005
I'm currently writing a book about my studies and experiences with Warne
in the 1980's, I would be happy to communicate with anyone in the community
interested in hearing about it, if so please contact me by email at
Thanks and I hope to hear from you.
Jack, great site.
Kudos to Mark Weber for his wonderful poem "Warne Marsh". I, too, experienced that breaking through by Marsh in 1965 at the Jazz Workshop in Boston, MA. A friend and I (in our mid-twenties) were ever so fortunate to see Warne with Lee & Lennie's Quintet twice in one week (we lived an hour and a half away and both had day jobs). Warne was absolutely on fire, electrified is the only word that fits, as Mark indicated so perfectly in his writing. I had been musically stimulated to such a degree "live" only by THE John Coltrane Quartet, which was also visually exciting. Warne accomplished the feat with "pure" improvisation.
Over the years, for me, only Warne at his best can approach the level of Coltrane's classic Giant Steps material. I do believe he was a genius, yet personally humble, and like all great artists, absolutely one of a kind.
Milton, NH. USA. June 12, 2005.
I studied with Warne at the Hotel Bretton Hall on 86th and Broadway for about 2 1/2 years in the early 80's. I also remember two excellent players who also studied with him at the time. One was an Alto Player named Mike Kolodny. Mike was one of the most innovative players I have heard. The other student was a Tenor player named Gregg Martin. Gregg was also very cutting edge and a great player.
I remember sitting on the floor outside Warne's hotel room before my lesson listening to him practice. He would weave a mosaic of music that was the most beautiful and sensitive playing I have ever heard. I wasn't a very good student and not a very good reader so Warne focused on my ear. I would listen to solos of Lester Young and Louis Armstrong and sing them to him. He also told me to listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to really learn a tune. He said that they were always true to the song.
My time with Warne was very rewarding. He didn't want very much from life except to love his family and to play. To Warne Music was a religion that took care of everything else. He went through some pretty rough times with life but what he believed in more than anything was Music. His love of Music and his generosity to all who studied with him was very heartfelt especially to me. He was a friend and treated me as an equal even though I couldn't possibly stand in his very large shoes.
He changed my life and I will never forget him.
John P. Bianculli. Queensbury, New York. March 27th. 2005.
Warne starts his solo
about where Lester would be
on his 40th chorus
Warne is way out there already
soaring, coasting, everything at lightening speed
Lou Levy or Alan Broadbent on piano
cool & telepathic
laying down these complex bebop chords
and Warne is skirting over the top
decorating everything with
all the hippest extensions
Nothing is for show, he's not grandstanding
Warne is the most unpretentious & unassuming man
you could ever hope to meet
Entirely quiet off the stage
and here he is inventing new melodies
while simultaneously dotting the tops of these chords
playing new songs every five or ten seconds
a geyser of ideas
We could never figure out
how he could know all those notes
and where to find them
on the tenor saxophone
and at such velocity, and
all at the service of artistry
a monumental testament to
the powers of the mind
and the questing improviser
That's one of the interesting things about jazz
is that you can hear a mind thinking
you can hear a brain doing its work
and Warne's brain in the 50th chorus is
circuitry electrified crackling light flashing
We're in Donte's for the second time this week
North Hollywood, 1976, 1977
it's the witching hour
and night after night
Warne has been blasting the socks off these tunes
everything going up in flames
"Lester Leaps In"
"Out of Nowhere"
"All the Things You Are"
"Slow Boat to China"
he's taken Lester's message
and he's delivering it to the Gods, himself
on tenor saxophone!
he's out there with the birds, with Bird himself soaring
the club is full of musicians and hipsters
we're gasping, on the edge of our seats
Warne is blazing
his eyes catatonic, wide-open and focused staring
dead straight ahead intent on his mission
he's in a trance
and he's brought us all along with him
there is nothing unknowable about
where he is and what he is doing
nobody can believe what is happening!
Warne has broke through
to the other side
the glowing light of awe is flooding Donte's
he's Gone, into the stratosphere!
Warne is sheer pure energy
a life force, he is
everything we always knew
jazz could be
burning free improvisation
chorus after chorus
layer upon layer
and somehow out of it all he re-invents
the original melody! it comes popping out
entirely of its own, organically recreated
right before our eyes
the entire club electrifies in a wave of goosebumps
our hair standing on end ecstatic
Warne is perfectly connected to the forces of the universe
and when it's all over
he lights a cigarette
*Donte's jazz club
4269 Lankershim Boulevard
North Hollywood, California
proprietors: Carey & May Leverette.
cover charge was $2.50 to sit at a little bistro-like table
OR it was FREE if you went to the bar! It was just a small place. Average
size for a southern California jazz club -- fit about 120 people comfortably.
All the cats from Johnny Carson would finish their afternoon taping of the show
(the musicians in Doc Severinson's tv band) and you'd see them in there all
the time -- it was the scene up in the "Valley" over the hill from Hollywood (North
Hollywood was separated by a row of hills, the same hills where the Hollywood
Bowl is. At the front door of Donte's was a night blooming jasmine bush about 6 foot tall ( jazz
men, get it?) and on warm summer nights Carey would leave the door open and this
hugely aromatic jasmine smell would fill the room. Warne died on the stage
years later. And Carey died at his desk. I don't know what's there now.
Contributed by Mark Weber.
Albuquerque, New Mexico. February 21, 2005.
Congratulations Jack on your fine website devoted to Warne Marsh! This is something of real value as Warne was one of the great players of all time, and it's wonderful to be able to read the various comments by others on him and his music. I had the privilege of knowing Warne Marsh as a student in the early seventies when he was discovering a second career as a teacher -- something he came to truly enjoy.
Warne's extrapolation of melodic improvisation was an innovative contribution to 20th century music; at his best he was certainly the equal of Lester Young and Charlie Parker, his main sources of inspiration along with Lennie Tristano. The subtle brilliance and complexity of his playing make him almost too challenging perhaps for the average jazz listener, as his music is really on a par with great classical music. His commitment to linear improvisation places him on a rather lonely peak of achievement shared by few others. He was truly a musical giant.
I am sure that in the course of time Warne Marsh will emerge as one of the most incisive and impassioned musical thinkers of this era, for he was uncompromisingly dedicated to the possibilities of creative improvising based on the most thorough and deep comprehension of the interplay of melody, harmony and rhythm. Warne's solos exhibit both fire and intense intellectuality, and remain fresh and absorbing after repeated listenings. They are remarkable spontaneous compositions, full of surprises but with a superior sense of order.
His was a soul wedded to music; Warne was a great artist who cared only for creative expression of a high kind. We are lucky that he was among us. He was a great teacher also, and he affirmed for me that art is the greatest of all ways to affirm the truth and beauty of being human. Let's never forget him!
Thanks again Jack for putting your website together and contributing to the continuing celebration of Warne Marsh's extraordinary music.
What a great website. I perused
all of it. The photos are wonderful. I especially liked George Ziskind's
contribution -- just like Warne, hugging his horn and looking at George with
those intense Warne Marsh eyes. I also like George's contribution to the
anecdotes -- it just knocked me over! I might be able to help identify the
tracks on "The Art of Improvising." I was the editor. Lennie didn't tell that to
Warne and Warne assumed that Lennie did the editing. I did it for Lennie because
he wanted a solo tape of Warne's playing from that date.
Thanks for this website.
Connie Crothers. New York City. February 10th. 2005.
I love the website. I’m 40+ and have dug the Lennie Tristano School since I was a child, when my father would play ‘Judy’, ‘Yesterdays’ and segments from ‘Crosscurrents’ and other related stuff on his upright piano (located in my bedroom). Warne Marsh always fascinated me. I was struck by how much he looked like the actor Alan Ladd (from ‘Shane’). In fact, Warne (and Lee Konitz, for that matter) never looked the same in successive photos. It struck me that they looked almost non-descript or ordinary. Warne looks ill on some of the photos in your gallery. I remember learning some of his solo’s, transposing them to alto. I’d hum them for weeks, months: I still know them.
Warne and Lee (and the Lennie Tristano School) turned me off from a lot of jazz. I liked what they were doing but little else. I liked the linear approach to improvisation (and became influenced by it). My wife and I got married to ‘Darn that Dream’ (from the Marsh/Konitz European tour: the same line-up that you saw in Whitley Bay all those years back).
I listen to Warne every week and have done for years. I don’t know if I’ve become blinkered. I listen to other stuff but rarely for long (exceptions are: Kenny Wheeler, Dewey Redman, some Monk, Charlie Haden). If it’s jazz it has to be from The School.
It’s good to see that your website has been such a success. I’ve got no reminiscences to give you (sorry). I’ve seen Konitz a number of times (met him once) and am seeing him again on the 18 January (Kenny Wheeler’s 75th birthday gig). But perhaps my most important live attendance occurred when I was an undergraduate at the School of Cognitive & Computing Sciences, University of Sussex. And it kind of links up with that Whitley Bay line-up.
I was playing tenor at that time and a student buddy said that a guitarist and alto player played duets at one of the student bars on campus. I went along one Sunday afternoon and discovered that the guitarist was Dave Cliff and the altoist was Geoff Simkins. They were playing some familiar standards. One student asked if they’d play ‘Summertime’ (dreadful song!). I think it was Geoff Simkins who replied something like “I’ve got nothing new to say about that song, so sorry”. It reminded me of a story I heard about Lee Konitz: he was asked (somewhat unwisely) by a member of the audience, if he’d play ‘Take Five’. I think he replied “I wouldn’t be seen dead playing Take Five”!
But I approached them and asked if they’d be prepared to go over some Tristano School lines. Dave Cliff was clearly shocked and quietly impressed I seem to recall. Anyway, they did go over some of those wonderful lines for the rest of the set. I don’t think that they’d practiced the lines regularly. There were a few errors. But it was great; the best live music I’ve ever heard (partly because of the relevance of it to me). I studied briefly with Simkins thereafter.
Whilst gigging (on alto) in Portsmouth, a drummer said to me between songs that I reminded him of Lee Konitz: well, I could have hugged him, even if he was a drummer. I play a little jazz piano now having given up the sax for a number of reasons.
I never saw Warne Marsh but I love that man’s music, its uncompromising purity, the feeling of humility you feel if you dare to try and keep up with him. It has always been an intimidating experience listening to Warne (certainly as a sax player I feel that). It surprises me that so many pianists tended to lay-out behind Konitz but not Warne. I’d have thought it’d been the other way round. Having said as much: I find it easier to follow Warne than Konitz on the piano.
Anyway. Best wishes to you and to all likeminded souls out there.
Keeping Warne’s memory alive is a truly great service and I thank you for it.
Assessment Support & Domiciliary Service
Hampshire Autistic Society
England. 10th. January 2005
Thanks for your incredibly important work on one of the only people who understood the logical next direction for the trajectory of Fats, Prez and Bird - to pick the fattest pillars. As Bird once said to Bud Powell as they sat and listened to Warne play in the very early days "That's the next me." (recounted to me by Sal Mosca who was sitting behind them at the time.)
Michael Gold, Ph.D. Minnesota. November 14th. 2004.
I was very fortunate to be a student and friend of Warne's in the years from 1973 until he passed away. As a beginning musician, Warne was always patient and understanding in answering questions on music styles and theory.
Warne always said that a musician should learn the original melody of the song, especially from a standard done by Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday.
Even more than musical ability, Warne was able to point me in the right direction as far as listening and appreciating quality music. I also would like to say that his wife Gerry was always very hospitable to all the musicians when we would have jam sessions at their house in Pasadena.
Here's to you Warne from one Valley guy to another.
Dusty Wood. Van Nuys, California. November 3rd. 2004.
Shortly after the sudden death of Warne Marsh, Henk Bernlef wrote a poem dedicated to Warne entitled "Requiem". This was included in a collection of poems published by Henk in the Netherlands. He has been kind enough to send me an English translation, and I show it here Requiem
One day Warner ("Warner" was
my pet name for Warne, and he seemed to dig it so I kept using it right
until the end) and I were standing at Second Avenue and 82nd St. waiting for
the downtown Second Avenue bus to come along. And totally out of the blue,
Warner turned to me and said, "You know, man, I think I am really in deep
shit with Connie." (Connie Crothers, of course.) I asked him why? He
replied - and I'll never forget his exact words, and my instant
comprehension of the gaffe that Warner obviously felt he made - "...because
the other day I told her that Lennie was the best blind pianist I had ever
It's a pity you cannot read my articles, poems and stories about Warne. They are all in Dutch. In May I will present an hour long program on Warne starting with his work with Supersax and then on to the last music he played. I will never forget the man. Happy to be able to listen to all the wonderful music he left us. I'll never forget what he said one night when I went to a club in New York to hear him. I think it was the West End. After the first set he detected me in the audience, came over to me and said: "good your ears are here".
Henk Bernlef. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 6th. February 2004
Just some reminiscences about Warne.