Warne Marsh

Warne Marsh

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Warne Marsh

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Warne Marion Marsh (26 October 1927 – 18 December 1987) was an American tenor saxophonist born in Los Angeles.


Marsh came from an affluent background: his father was the cinematographer Oliver T. Marsh (1892–1941), and his mother Elizabeth was a violinist. Mae Marsh, the actress, was his aunt.

He was tutored by Lennie Tristano and, along with Lee Konitz, became one of the pre-eminent saxophonists of the Tristano-inspired school of jazz (often mislabeled as "Cool"). Of all of Tristano's students, Marsh came closest to typifying Tristano's ideals of improvised lines, in some respects, even transcending the master himself. Marsh remained one of the most faithful to the Tristano philosophy of improvisation – the faith in the purity of the long line, the avoidance of lick and emotional chain-pulling, the concentration on endlessly mining the same small body of jazz standards. Nevertheless, his distinctively pure tone without the inflections popular among many other tenor saxophonists at that time such as honks, growls, exaggerated vibrato, slurs and glisses, etc. set Marsh apart from other Lester Young and Ben Webster-influenced saxophonists.

Marsh's rhythmically subtle lines are immediately recognizable. He has been called by Anthony Braxton "the greatest vertical improviser."Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, p. 857. In the 1970s he gained renewed exposure as a member of Supersax, a large ensemble which played...
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