Jazz music, news and views

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Butch Warren Resurfaces

There's a great story by Marc Fisher in the Washington Post on bassist Butch Warren. Like so many great veterans of jazz, Warren has had his share of hard times, as Fisher reveals. The bassist is currently in a psychiatric facility in his hometown of Washington, D.C. An inquisitive worker at the facility discovered who he was when looking online one day.

An excerpt from the article:

" [...] like many players of that era, Warren fell into drinking and drugging. 'Heroin,' he says. 'I always liked that heroin better than cocaine. I joke about it, but that heroin is ridiculous. There's nothing funny about it.'

Then, in 1963, one of Warren's best friends, pianist Sonny Clark, died of a heroin overdose. Warren told a French magazine that 'after Sonny died, I didn't feel like working anymore.' Later that year, when President Kennedy was assassinated, Warren felt overwhelmed. The magazines would say that he had simply disappeared. But he actually went home, where he felt safer."

You may remember Warren's work with Clark. This association found him along side Jackie McLean as well as Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock. Throughout his career, Warren was often one of a pair -- half of a match made in heaven with drummer Billy Higgins. Their interplay wasn't just time-keeping; it was a dance, a groove. As mentioned in the Post, Warren's greatest enjoyment still comes from playing the bass, and that's clear enough on record. (The first album I remembering hearing him on was Dexter Gordon's Go, where he sounded especially sprightly on "Cheese Cake.")

Read the whole story here.


  • At 5/26/2006 11:37 AM, Anonymous Marc Fisher said…

    Thanks for the kind words about the Butch Warren column. I've been fortunate to hear from a great many jazz legends this week, people who played with Butch and lost touch with him. And I'm happy to report that the Jazz Foundation is going to try to reconnect Butch with his music, seeking an appropriate living arrangement for him.

  • At 9/27/2007 5:58 AM, Anonymous Erika B said…

    WOW!!! Thank you so much for all you have done for Cousin Butch. Being much younger than he, I only remember seeing him a few times in concert and at family functions. We have all lost touch and tracking him have been difficult since Grandmother passed. This si wonderful. I hear he will be playing in the city in Nov. Again many thanks for seeing the man for the man and the music in him.

  • At 10/01/2007 6:02 PM, Blogger Kellen said…

    Thanks for dropping by, Erika! Sorry to hear about the difficulties in locating him, but I'm glad to know he's still playing. I hope you're able to reconnect with him soon!

  • At 3/04/2010 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello there - please visit us on Facebook at "Friends of Butch Warren." Lots great things happening for Butch right now. thanks for your support.


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