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An Unsung Cat by Safford Chamberain

An Unsung Cat..The Life And Music Of Warne Marsh by Safford Chamberlain, Scarecrow Press Safford Chamberlain has amassed ten Years of research into the complex life of Warne Marsh, the underrated and (unsung) Tenor Saxophonist and as a result has penned a fascinating book which traces Marshs beginnings in Los Angeles to his alliance with Lennie Tristano the blind pianist and the cultish group that Tristano held sway over in an almost Sheikh Omar Abdullah Rahman fashion. Marsh would continue his on again off again stints with Tristano until Lennie beset with constant pain and itching in his eyes and grossly overweight from excessive drinking died. Tristano had been advised to have his eyeballs removed but refused. His odd behavior can certainly be understood and it worsened in his final days.

During Warne Marsh's periods of absence from Tristano's control he seemed to blossom and play with inspiration and explosiveness and once suggested that he had been trying for years to break away {from Tristano} but could never succeed which clearly illustrates Tristano's grip on his band of followers. Tristano would refer to himself as "Lennie" or "We" in conversation whichto say the least is a most quirky affectation....John Norris says that Marsh's link to Tristano seems to have hindered his (Marsh's) career. Med Flory the brilliant Altoist describes Warne Marsh accurately as being "fey" and this characteristic was no doubt the result of the daily use of marijuana since the age of 15 and cocaine for the last 20 years of his life with alcohol and amphetamines thrown in for good measure.

Warne Marsh left a legacy of fine recordings which are thoroughly analyzed by Chamberlain in his compelling and insightful journey into one jazz musician's existence. Safford Chamberlain has compiled a brilliant biography of a very complicated man.. For a book as revealing as this work one is struck by the multitude of interviews and inside information that was garnered. The author studied with Marsh briefly and this relationship was the inspiration for this intriguing book.

This is savvy writing from a man who is in tune with jazz by virtue of being a musician scholar and a relentless searcher for truth and accuracy.

This is the best and most legitimate bio that I have read in years.....'

Additional Info

  • Book Title: An Unsung Cat
  • Author: Safford Chamberain
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press
  • Year Published: 2000
  • Book Type:: Non-Fiction
  • ISBN: 810837188
  • Rating: Five Stars
  • Number of Pages: 395
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