JJ 07/83: Warne Marsh and Lou Levy in London

Forty years ago Barry McRae saw the elliptical bebopper Marsh in duo and quartet at Pizza Express's two London jazz venues of the day. First published in Jazz Journal July 1983

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Warne Marsh

Due to London’s strange licensing laws, it was possible to hear the Marsh/Levy team in two totally different ways. The Pizza On The Park is restricted to the use of only two performers at one time and, as a result, we heard the plain tenor and piano duo, with all the freedom that that entailed. Marsh moved over the changes like a hunter stalking his prey, and Levy was equally laid back, as the two men interacted in a relaxed but melodically challenging way.

At the Pizza Express they were joined by bassist Kenny Baldock and drummer Kenny Clare. A more straightforward attitude was inevitable and the players were more predictable. The demands of such as Star Eyes, Speak Low and Out Of Nowhere were met in a more traditional manner, but Levy’s chordal work re­mained a joy and Marsh stayed nearer to bebop. Lovers of the oblique Tristano manner might have preferred the looser happenings at the Park but, at both venues, these two visitors preached with conviction to the converted.