“WARNE MARSH: AN IMPROVISED LIFE”

In my childhood, my parents were towering figures — ever-present, vocal, impossible to ignore.  I was so busy interacting with them that daily routines drove out the possibility for deeper introspection about them.  I had only to venture out of my room and there they were.  Even if they were not physically present, they were my interior soundtrack — approving or disapproving, lecturing, reminding, explaining.

But they are now physically absent, although spiritually present.  As I age, I wish I could speak candidly with them, to ask the questions my younger self was unable to phrase and they might have been unwilling to answer.  My parents now seem characters in an unwritten novel, unpredictable, complicated beings I muse over. They have taken their secrets with them, but I imagine their spirits approving of my efforts to understand, my willingness to keep them alive in my thoughts.

I believe that other adult children feel as I do.

I have always been especially interested by the children of jazz musicians, whose parents must have been equally fascinating but perhaps more inscrutable, because of atypical nocturnal lives. So I am particularly intrigued to learn of a new documentary in the making, WARNE MARSH: AN IMPROVISED LIFE — not only because I admire the music that saxophonist Marsh created, but because the documentary is being made by his adult son, K.C. Marsh.

Details (and a short video) here.

I have some ambivalence about putting appeals-for-money into this blog, but I applaud K.C.’s efforts to make this film — both as a tribute to a musician who should be known more widely, and as his own effort to find out who his father was and is.  (So, yes, I have sent a little money of my own.)

Here is a sample of Warne’s music — he, Paul Chambers, string bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums, playing JUST SQUEEZE ME in 1958:

I look forward to K.C. Marsh’s attempt to understand both that floating sound and the man who made it.  Perhaps, as he comes to comprehend his father, it will help others of us unlock the lives of our parents as well. For their sake and for ours.

May your happiness increase!

3 responses to ““WARNE MARSH: AN IMPROVISED LIFE”

  1. Geraldyne Marsh

    Thank you for the help you have given Warne and my son KC. With gratitude, Geraldyne Marsh

  2. Thanks for drawing attention to the inimitable artistry of Warne Marsh. I look forward to the film. He is one of several players who, while forming their approaches to jazz improvisation the wake of the overwhelming influence of Charlie Parker, navigated their own paths. Some others I would name would be his comrades-in-arms Lee Konitz (blessedly still with us), Lennie Tristano and the great Herbie Nichols.

    These types of players exist as creative singularities of a sort which resists imitation. To attempt to do so would be futile and absurd and to miss the point entirely. One must appreciate them while taking their immense achievements as inspiration.

    Similar tendencies of an earlier generation (who formed their own singular styles in the wake of the Louis Armstrong avalanche) I could name are Pee Wee Russell, Frank Newton and Henry “Red” Allen.

    Their rewards are more often than not obscurity and marginalization within a musical form already marginalized to the point of virtual invisibility.

  3. Deeply grateful for the support and what a lovely comment Babylovet!

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