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Warne Marsh


Nate Dorward
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I'm sure there's probably a few Marsh threads kicking around here, but in the wake of the reissue of All Music I thought I'd start a fresh one. There's a lot of Marsh records, scattered among a lot of different labels, with a fairly consistent repertoire (in the usual Zen Tristanoite fashion of working over the same dozen or so tunes night after night), & so I never really feel I've got a good idea of the "essential" Marsh, or the development of his music over the span of his career. Probably the albums I play most are the Intuition reissue of Jazz of Two Cities, Ne Plus Ultra on Hat Art/Revelation, & the twofer set from the Half Note with Konitz, Evans, Garrison & Motian. Would be interested to know what else is top priority for Marsh fans. I'm a tad cautious because my experience is that a number of dedicated Tristanoite labels tend to release music that's often rather poorly recorded....

Incidentally did Marsh write many tunes in his later career? Mostly when I encounter a credit to Marsh on an album, it means it's a themeless improvisation ofter the changes of a familiar standard. (E.g. "Well Spoken" on the album with Chet Baker = changes of "Speak Low".)

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I like the Storyvilles with Konitz a lot, and play those often. Don't have many others than those you've mentioned, and I probably NEED to get more. . . . A very unique player whose sound and conception grow on one with exposure. . . though it may take LOTS of exposure for some. (Medium was needed for me).

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Hm, interesting to see the trio with NHOP & Levitt on there--I have the other disc from those session, with Dave Cliff on it, & must confess I never liked it all that much. In part that's just because Levitt's drums sound all sibilant & busy to me there, & the recorded sound is a little grey (even for a Marsh album).

I remember the disc with Red Mitchell & Karin Krog being remarkable despite my not liking Krog's vocal much--I recall Marsh's solo on "I Remember You" as being a stunner. & I think there's a disc out there somewhere with just Mitchell & Marsh? On Storyville probably? Haven't heard it.

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Yes I have most of the Atlantics too (separately, not the boxed set, now O/P), & the (O/P) twofer with Giuffre. It's a good set. But those are from the earlier career (up to the early 1960s); after that it becomes more of an uncharted territory, especially for those like me who are largely dependent on CD reissues rather than original small-label vinyl.

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The 60s thru the mid-70s are pretty devoid of material. Warne was doing very next to no recording then (he was playing some, just not recording). The "comeback" began slowly, probably first w/an association w/Clare Fischer (THESAURUS contains one of Warne's most sublime solos, on "Lennie's Pennies"), then on to Supersax, and finally ALL MUSIC, and the tours w/Konitz (Lon's recs of the Storyvilles is deed on).

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I think there's a disc out there somewhere with just Mitchell & Marsh? On Storyville probably? Haven't heard it.

There are 3 Marsh/Mitchell duo cds. Fresh Sounds issued an NPR broadcast and Storyville issued 2 cds from a concert in Sweden.

Your initial post has me thinking of making an "annotated" list of Warne's recordings. If I ever find the damn time.

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With ALL MUSIC on Nessa and NE PLUS ULTRA on Revelation/Hat, you got two of his very best albums. Maybe THE two best albums. THE INTUITION with TED BROWN is also a must.

But you can have also lot pleasure to listen to the following:

LEE KONITZ WITH WARNE MARSH (Atlantic, 1955) with Sal Mosca , Billy Bauer, Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clarke Ronnie Ball)

MUSIC FOR PRANCING (VSOP, 1957) with Ronnie Ball, Red Mitchell, Stan Levey. Well recorded and quite essentiall even if The Penguin Guide has never strangely warm for it.

WARNE MARSH (originally from Atlantic, 1958, but available in CD from Collectables Jazz Classics - check their Website: www.oldies.com. It's pairing with CHARLES LlOYD QUARTET THE FLOWERING) A very good but too short session with Ronnie Ball, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones fort a part and with Chambers and Paul Motian for the rest. Good sound and recorded in stereo.

WARNE MARSH QUINTET (FEATURING LEE KONITZ & NHOP) JAZZ EXCHANGE VOL.1 (Storyville, 1975) Alex Riel and Svend Erik Norregard on drums. The two tristanite back again together. I like the three volumes but the first is indeed the best. Recorded live at Café Monmartre in Copenhagen in a quite OK sound quality.

WARNE MARSH TRIO THE UNISSUED COPENHAGEN STUDIO RECORDING (Storyville, 1975) with NHOP again and Alan Levitt. Levitt, who has been a pupil of tristano is not the best drummer that you can dream of but this the best of the three storyville who have been released in 1997. Good studio sound.

WARNE OUT (Flyright, 1977 on the vinyl I have but quite sure it has been also reedited in Collectables Jazz Classics. It's with Jim Hughart (bass) and Nick Ceroli (drums). Good Sound, beautifull playing.

PETE CHRISTLIEB/ WARNE MARSH QUINTET APOGEE (Warner/ Rhino, 1978) with Lou Levy, Jim Hughart, Nick Ceroli) better than the two Criss Cross (even if I like them) with the same musicians, less Lou Levy. The sound quality is first rate with lots of dynamic who served well the music who is much more agressive than usual.

STARS HIGH (Criss Cross, 1982), with Hank Jones, George Mraz, Mel Lewis. Maybe the best of the Criss Cross batch with a beautiful version of MOOSE THE MOOCH.

BACK HOME (Criss Cross, 1986) in Quintet with Jimy Halperin, Barry Harris, David Williams, Albert "Tootie" Heath. Marsh pairing with another tenor who is became one of his most interesting follower (cf. PSALM on Zinnia and CYCLE LOGICAL on Cadence)

WARNE MARSH - RED MITCHELL DUO (Fresh Sound, 1980), recorded live at Sweet Basil. Both men are in great shape, the sound is OK.

Alas, there's lot of Warne LP who didn't make it on CD.

If you can play vinyl look for this one (I've seen it in second hand shop sometimes, at least here in Europe) :

LEW TABACKIN & WARNE MARSH TENOR GLADNESS (Inner City, 1976), with Larry Bunker (bass), John Heard (Drums). A royal tenor sax battle between this two very different players (Tabackin sounds like Rollins most of the time here.) It's produced by Toshiko Akiyoshi and all of the pieces are "improvised", meaning build on the change of the usual standards. The two saxes comme very clear on each chanel but behind, the uncredited piano of Akiyoshi jump from one channel to the other. Better to listen to it in mono if possible. But if you are interesting in Marsh, it's really one to have.

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Your initial post has me thinking of making an "annotated" list of Warne's recordings. If I ever find the damn time.

Yes, this would be incredibly useful. The discography at www.warnemarsh.info is awe-inspiring but it's of limited use for the casual jazzfan because (1) a large proportion of it is listings of broadcasts from public radio; (2) given that Marsh's favourite handful of compositions appear on virtually every album, just knowing that a disc has a version of, say, "Subconscious-Lee" isn't terribly helpful; (3) there's no qualitative judgments, comments about sound-quality &c.

A dumb question, Chuck: is that you on the left in the photo under the "Producer's Note" to All Music? I assume so, though actually I'd initially thought it was Alan Broadbent!

I wish Hat Art or someone would do a proper reissue of Ne Plus Ultra--in particular I wonder what happened to the rest of those sessions--there's one track from a live date ("You Stepped Out of a Dream") which is pretty astonishing, but the rest is studio material (notable for a 15-minute freely improvised track, "Touch & Go").

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A dumb question, Chuck: is that you on the left in the photo under the "Producer's Note" to All Music?  I assume so, though actually I'd initially thought it was Alan Broadbent!

I guess it's a fair question since it is the 2nd time I heard it today. Yes, that's what I looked like back then. That's veteran recording engineer Stu Black in the background, and a bottle of cognac.

Don't expect any extras when Hat reissues NPU.

Edited by Chuck Nessa
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It's just one track from the Billy Eckstine 2-CD collection "Everything I Have Is Yours," but everybody who's interested in Marsh ought to hear his solo on the extended Metronome All-Stars recording of "How High the Moon" from 1953 (with an Eckstine vocal). In the words of John LaPorta, also on the date: "He played like Bach, total melodic flow, no licks." Lester Young, on the date too, plays no less sublimely on "Moon" behind Eckstine's vocal. Interesting that, a la Lou Levy's "Lunarcy" on "All Music," the second half of "Moon" (the half with Warne's solo) is double-time. Wonder if Levy remembered this recording.

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