Bassist Butch Warren
June 4, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
A couple years ago, I had heard that bassist Butch Warren reappeared onstage in DC.
I remember thinking to myself, "Where the hell has he been?"
The answer was that he had been to hell and back.
Chances are you have a record with Butch Warren. The bassist was a prolific session man for Blue Note Records in the early 1960s. That groove on "Watermelon Man," from Herbie Hancock's debut? Yeah, that's Butch. Dexter Gordon, Sonny Clark, Grant Green? Yeah, that's Butch.
Warren was quite the anchor for those studio dates, yet he lived a life largely unmoored. He spent years on and off the streets. That kind of living has clearly taken its toll, but Warren still plays, scuffling for work and staying on his feet. I generally have mixed feelings when nationally televised networks show people the world of jazz. More often than not, it's an all too familiar tale of drug abuse, homelessness, institutionalization that catches the whim of an editor.
Believe it or not, there are a few happy endings in jazz.
Here's to Butch Warren finding his.
© 2008 WBGO
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