Warne Marsh

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Warne Marsh
Internationale Jazz Festival Amsterdam 121314 augustus Warne Marsh Quartet , M, Bestanddeelnr 932-2807.jpg
Warne Marsh, Amsterdam, 1982
Background information
Birth nameWarne Marion Marsh
Born(1927-10-26)October 26, 1927
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedDecember 18, 1987(1987-12-18) (aged 60)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Associated acts Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, Supersax

Warne Marion Marsh (October 26, 1927 – December 18, 1987) was an American tenor saxophonist. Born in Los Angeles, his playing first came to prominence in the 1950s as a protégé of pianist Lennie Tristano and earned attention in the 1970s as a member of Supersax.



Marsh came from an affluent artistic background: his father was Hollywood cinematographer Oliver T. Marsh (1892–1941), and his mother Elizabeth was a violinist. He was the nephew of actresses Mae Marsh and Marguerite Marsh and film editor Frances Marsh.

He was tutored by Lennie Tristano. Marsh was often recorded in the company of other Cool School musicians, [1] and remained one of the most faithful to the Tristano philosophy of improvisation – the faith in the purity of the long line, the avoidance of licks and emotional chain-pulling, the concentration on endlessly mining the same small body of jazz standards. While Marsh was a generally cool-toned player, the critic Scott Yanow notes that Marsh played with "more fire than one would expect" in certain contexts. [2]

Marsh's rhythmically subtle lines are immediately recognizable. He has been called by Anthony Braxton "the greatest vertical improviser" (i.e., improvising that emphasizes harmony/chords more than melody). [3] In the 1970s, he gained renewed exposure as a member of Supersax, a large ensemble which played orchestral arrangements of Charlie Parker solos. Marsh also recorded one of his most celebrated albums, All Music, with the Supersax rhythm section during this period.

Marsh died of a heart attack onstage at the Los Angeles club Donte's in 1987, in the middle of playing the tune "Out of Nowhere". [4] He left a widow, Geraldyne Marsh, and two sons, K.C. Marsh and Jason Marsh. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. [5]

Though he remains something of a cult figure among jazz fans and musicians, his influence has grown since his death; younger players such as Mark Turner have borrowed from his music as a way of counterbalancing the pervasive influence of John Coltrane. Marsh's discography remains somewhat scattered and elusive, as much of it was done for small labels, but more and more of his work has been issued on compact disc in recent years.

A documentary is being made about him: Warne Marsh: An Improvised Life, directed by his eldest son, K.C. Marsh.


As leader/co-leader

As co-leader/sideman

With Elek Bacsik

With Chet Baker

With Bill Evans

With Clare Fischer

With Lee Konitz

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<i>Lee Konitz Meets Warne Marsh Again</i> 1977 live album by Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh

Lee Konitz Meets Warne Marsh Again is a live album by American jazz saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh recorded at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in 1976 and released on the Pausa label.

<i>The Unissued 1975 Copenhagen Studio Recordings</i> 1997 studio album by Warne Marsh Quartet

The Unissued 1975 Copenhagen Studio Recordings, is an album by saxophonist Warne Marsh's Quartet recorded in Denmark in late 1975 but not released on the Storyville label until 1997.

<i>Conversations with Warne Volume 1</i> 1991 studio album by Pete Christlieb Quartet featuring Warne Marsh

Conversations with Warne Volume 1 is an album by saxophonist Pete Christlieb's Quartet featuring Warne Marsh which was recorded in 1978 and released on the Dutch Criss Cross Jazz label in 1991.

<i>Warne Marsh Quintet: Jazz Exchange Vol. 1</i> 1976 live album by Warne Marsh Quintet featuring Lee Konitz & Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen

Warne Marsh Quintet: Jazz Exchange Vol. 1, is a live album by saxophonist Warne Marsh's Quintet featuring Lee Konitz and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen which was recorded at the Jazzhus Montmartre in late 1975 and released on the Dutch Storyville label.

<i>Live at the Montmartre Club: Jazz Exchange Vol. 2</i> 1977 live album by Warne Marsh Lee Konitz Quintet

Warne Marsh Quintet: Jazz Exchange Vol. 2, is a live album by saxophonists Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz which was recorded at the Jazzhus Montmartre in late 1975 and released on the Dutch Storyville label.

<i>Warne Marsh Lee Konitz: Jazz Exchange Vol. 3</i> 1985 live album by Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz

Warne Marsh Lee Konitz: Jazz Exchange Vol. 3, is a live album by saxophonists Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz which was recorded at the Jazzhus Montmartre in late 1975 and released on the Dutch Storyville label in 1985.

<i>The Art of Improvising</i> 1974 live album by Warne Marsh

The Art of Improvising, is a live album by saxophonist Warne Marsh recorded in 1959 and released on the Revelation label in 1974. Each track on The album only features part of the performance containing Marsh's solo although an album featuring twelve complete performances from these shows was released in 1994 under Kontz's name as Live at the Half Note.

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  1. Gridley, Mark C. (1994), "Styles", in Ron Wynn (ed.), All Music Guide to Jazz , M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, p.  11, ISBN   0-87930-308-5
  2. "Star Highs - Warne Marsh - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic . Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  3. Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, p. 857.
  4. Warne Marsh, Peter Madsen, Allaboutjazz.com, November 2001
  5. "Warne Marsh (1927 - 1987) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  6. "Warne Marsh | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic . Retrieved December 24, 2016.

Further reading