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.
Warne Marsh, Amsterdam, 1982
|Birth name||Warne Marion Marsh|
|Born||October 26, 1927|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||December 18, 1987 (aged 60)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Associated acts||Lennie Tristano, Supersax|
Marsh came from an affluent artistic background: his father was MGM cinematographer Oliver T. Marsh (1892–1941), and his mother Elizabeth was a violinist. Through his father, he is 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, 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.
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). 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 onstage at the Los Angeles club Donte's in 1987, in the middle of playing the tune "Out of Nowhere". 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.
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.
- Live in Hollywood (Xanadu, 1952 )
- Lee Konitz with Warne Marsh (Atlantic, 1955) with Lee Konitz
- Jazz of Two Cities (Imperial, 1956) also released as The Winds of Marsh
- Art Pepper with Warne Marsh (Contemporary, 1956 ) with Art Pepper
- The Right Combination (Riverside, 1957) with Joe Albany
- Music for Prancing (Mode, 1957)
- Warne Marsh (Atlantic, 1958)
- The Art of Improvising (Revelation, 1959 )
- The Art of Improvising Volume 2 (Revelation, 1959 )
- Release Record Send Tape (Wave, 1959-60 )
- Jazz from the East Village (Wave, 1960 )
- Ne Plus Ultra (Revelation, 1969)
- Report of the 1st Annual Symposium on Relaxed Improvisation (Revelation, 1972) with Clare Fischer and Gary Foster
- Warne Marsh Quintet: Jazz Exchange Vol. 1 (Storyville, 1975 ) with Lee Konitz
- Live at the Montmartre Club: Jazz Exchange Vol. 2 (Storyville, 1975 ) with Lee Konitz
- Warne Marsh Lee Konitz: Jazz Exchange Vol. 3 (Storyville, 1975 ) with Lee Konitz
- The Unissued 1975 Copenhagen Studio Recordings (Storyville, 1975 )
- The Unissued Copenhagen Studio Recordings (Storyville, 1975 )
- All Music (Nessa, 1976)
- Lee Konitz Meets Warne Marsh Again (Pausa, 1976) with Lee Konitz
- Tenor Gladness (Discomate, 1976) with Lew Tabackin
- Warne Out (Interplay, 1977)
- Apogee (Warner Bros., 1978) with Pete Christlieb
- Conversations with Warne Volume 1 (Criss Cross, 1978 ) with Pete Christlieb
- Conversations with Warne Volume 2 (Criss Cross Jazz, 1978 ) with Pete Christlieb
- How Deep, How High (Interplay, 1976/79 ) with Sal Mosca
- I Remember You... (Spotlite, 1980) with Karin Krog and Red Mitchell
- Star Highs (Criss Cross Jazz, 1982)
- Warne Marsh Meets Gary Foster (East Wind, 1982) with Gary Foster
- A Ballad Album (Criss Cross, 1983) with Lou Levy
- Posthumous (Interplay, 1985 ) released with additional tracks as Newly Warne (Storyville, 1985 )
- Ballad for You (Interplay, 1985 ) with Susan Chen
- Warne Marsh & Susan Chen (Interplay, 1985 ) with Susan Chen
- Back Home (Criss Cross, 1986)
- Two Days in the Life of... (Interplay, 1987)
- Red Mitchell/Warne Marsh Big Two (Storyville, 1987)
- Live at the Montmartre Club: Jazz Exchange, Vol. 3 (Storyville, 1987)
- For the Time Being (Hot Club, 1990)
- Live at Montmartre, Vol. 3 (Storyville, 1995)
- Red Mitchell-Warne Marsh Big Two, Vol. 2 (Storyville, 1998)
- I Got a Good One for You (Storyville, 2000)
- Live in Las Vegas, 1962 (Naked City Jazz, 2000)
- Personnel Statement (3D, 2002)
- Marshlands (Storyville, 2003)
- Final Interplay (Why Not, 2004)
- Duo Live at Sweet Basil 1980 (Fresh Sound, 2004)
- Berlin 1980 (Gambit, 2006)
- In Copenhagen (Storyville, 2007)
With Elek Bacsik
- Bird and Dizzy – a Musical Tribute (Flying Dutchman, 1875)
With Chet Baker
- Blues for a Reason (Criss Cross Jazz, 1985)
With Bill Evans
- Crosscurrents (Fantasy, 1977)
With Clare Fischer
- Thesaurus (Atlantic, 1969)
With Lee Konitz
- 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
- "Star Highs - Warne Marsh - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, p. 857.
- Warne Marsh, Peter Madsen, Allaboutjazz.com, November 2001
- "Warne Marsh (1927 - 1987) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- "Warne Marsh | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
- Chamberlain, Safford (2000). An Unsung Cat: The Life and Music of Warne Marsh. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3718-8
- Cook, Richard & Morton, Brian (2003). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (8th edn). Penguin. ISBN 0-14-102327-9
- Cornelius, Marcus M (2002). Out of Nowhere – The musical life of Warne Marsh. Aurora Nova Publishing. ISBN 0-9580264-0-8
- Fan page for documentary, "Warne Marsh: An Improvised Life"
- http://www.warnemarsh.info – The Warne Marsh Web Site with a comprehensive discography, etc.
- http://auroranovapublishing.net – Web Site for Aurora Nova Publishing and the works of Marcus M. Cornelius
- https://www.johnklopotowski.com/book-preview – Memoirs and studies drawn from experiences as a student of Warne Marsh, 1982–1987. (John Klopotowski)
- Warne Marsh on IMDb