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Hittin’ The Last Lick…Butch Warren – Bassist

If you are, or ever have been a fan of the great artists recording on Blue Note back in the 50’s and 60’s Jazz nadir… You have heard Butch Warren.

Starting as a bassist for Thelonious Monk in the late 50’s, Warren – a DC native, became the “house bassist” for Blue Note’s recording studio, and toured with many of the label’s greats.

Edward ‘Butch’ Warren, Washington-born bassist, dies at 74

Edward “Butch” Warren, a Washington-born bassist who performed on celebrated albums of the modern jazz era before vanishing almost completely from the music scene because of drug addiction and deteriorating mental health, died Oct. 5 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. He was 74.

The cause was lung cancer, said a daughter, Sharon Warren.

Mr. Warren, who reappeared in Washington clubs in recent years, was best known for the recordings he made from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. He was discovered by trumpeter Kenny Dorham on a trip through the District and, within a matter of years, the 19-year-old Warren was working at the center of New York’s elite orbit of hard-bop jazz musicians.

As the house bass player for the Blue Note record label in New York, he helped set the pace and tone on first-rate albums by saxophonist Dexter Gordon, trumpeter Donald Byrd and pianists Herbie Hancock and Sonny Clark. He also toured the world with Thelonious Monk in 1963 and 1964 and was considered a promising disciple of the wildly innovative pianist and composer.

“Warren’s rich, loping bass is well suited to Monk’s rhythms if not his harmonic ideals,” Time magazine noted in a 1964 story about the band. “He is like a pony in pasture who traces his mother’s footsteps without stealing her grace.”

He left his mark on albums such as Hancock’s “Takin’ Off” (1962), Gordon’s “Go!” (1962), Jackie McLean’s “Vertigo” (1963), Dorham’s “Una Mas” (1963) and “Miles & Monk at Newport” (1964) with Miles Davis and Monk. Mr. Warren also wrote pieces included on several of the Blue Note albums, including “Eric Walks,” a tribute to his son, then a toddler taking his first steps.

Lean and lanky with an impassive face and an enduring attachment to the narrow lapels and thin ties popular among bop artists of the mid-century, Mr. Warren was for decades a mysterious, silent presence along the fringes of the Washington jazz scene.

After his return from New York in the mid-’60s, he was for a few years a regular in the house band on Channel 4’s morning talk show, “Today With Inga.” Then he largely disappeared, popping up from time to time at a club gig or at the Friday night jazz shows at Westminster Presbyterian Churchin Southwest Washington.

The Washington Post found Mr. Warren in 2006 in the locked-down psychiatric ward at Springfield Hospital Center , an institution 50 miles north of the District in Sykesville, Md. He had lost most of his teeth, and he seemed dazed and distracted. He had lost his apartment in a seniors’ facility in Silver Spring, lost his balance, lost his bass. “This is about the best place I’ve ever lived,” he told The Post.

The staff at the mental hospital knew him only as “Ed” until a worker on the ward got curious, Googled him, and discovered that the patient who kept asking for permission to play the piano in the recreation room was one of the lost bassists of the venerated Blue Note era.

Edward Rudolph Warren Jr., who was born on Aug. 9, 1939, grew up surrounded by music. His father was an electronics technician and a pianist who played at local clubs and opened his home to touring black musicians. His mother, Natalie, was for many years a typist at the CIA. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Donald “Duck” Dunn

Back in he 60’s, you wanted to make music – you needed a band. There wasn’t any electronic machinery to make appropriate noises at pre-planned intervals. There wa no wizard circuitry to cover up the fact that your lead couldn’t sing…

1970 Pic of Booker T and the MGs. From left to tight Al Jackson, Jr., Booker T. Jones, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and Steve Cropper.

That band for a lot of famous groups either on or associated with the STAX Label was Booker T and the MGs, who individually or as a group backed up just about anyone who was anyone in Southern Rock or Southern R&B for over 20 years. They and the Funk Brothers out of Detroit (the Motown Sound machine) defined not only soul or R&B music – but often played with rock groups. A short list of R&B Greats these guys backed included  Otis ReddingSam & DaveAlbert KingJohnnie TaylorEddie FloydThe Staple SingersWilson Pickett, and Delaney & Bonnie. A session player for the group was Isaac Hayes. Among the groups they influenced were the Beatles.

The distinctive sound of the group came from the Hammond B-3 and later the H-3 Organ, played by Booker T, and Issac Hayes – combined with the tightest base line possible laid down by Donald “Duck” Dunn, who would also play as bass for the The Blues BrothersMuddy WatersFreddie KingAlbert KingNeil YoungJerry Lee LewisEric ClaptonTom PettyCreedence Clearwater RevivalWilson PickettSam & DaveGuy SebastianRod StewartBob DylanRoy BuchananArthur Conley, Stephen Stills, and Eric Clapton.

Dunn used a sunburst Fender Precision bass with a rosewood fretboard and a red pickguard. In 1998, Dunn collaborated with Fender to produce a signature Precision Bass, a candy apple red-colored model based on the late 1950s style, with a gold anodized pickguard, a split-coil humbucking pickup and vintage hardware. The Duck Dunn P-Bass became the basis for a Skyline Series signature bass made by Chicago bass company Lakland a few years later, which is still available.

Booker T and MGs Bassist Dunn Dies

Bass player and songwriter Donald “Duck” Dunn, a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame band Booker T. and the MGs and the Blues Brothers band, has died in Tokyo. He was 70. Dunn was in Tokyo for a series of shows. News of his death was posted on the Facebook site of his friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour. Cropper said Dunn died in his sleep.

A spokeswoman for Tokyo Blue Note, the last venue Dunn played, confirmed he died alone early today. She had no further details. Dunn, who was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1941, performed on recordings with Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and many others, and specialized in blues, gospel, and soul. He played himself in the 1980 hit movie, The Blues Brothers. He received a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 2007 for his work with Booker T. and the MGs.

No “Green Onions” for this – I think a little “Time is Tight” is in order –

 
 

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