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An Unsung Cat: The Life and Music of Warne Marsh by Safford Chamberlain

Lennie Tristano ranks among the greatest and most original jazz musicians, a system creator who founded a school of modern jazz that was an alternative to bop. The Tristano school attracted few ardent followers because of its uniqueness. Even some of his earliest disciples, including guitarist Billy Bauer, went back to playing like mainstream stylists in the 1950s. Arguably Tristano’s strongest influence was exerted through one of the pianists he marked, Bill Evans, but very few jazz fans are aware of Tristano’s impact on Evans. Today, Tristano has been virtually forgotten. If that is the case, given his enormous achievements, how much of a chance is there to revive the reputation of one of his most brilliant students, tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh?

Safford Chamberlain, a college English teacher and one time student of Marsh, has certainly given it a good shot in his biography of Marsh, An Unsung Cat. And, happily, a companion CD has been issued on Storyville with the same name.

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