Editors' pick

The Legendary Butch Warren

Jazz
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Editorial Review

On my iPod right now, there are at least a half dozen jazz albums featuring the propulsive, pulsing bass of Butch Warren. Maybe you've heard some of them: "Go" and "A Swinging Affair" by Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock's "Takin' Off" with the now-standard "Watermelon Man," pianist Sonny Clark's "Leapin' and Lopin," Donald Byrd's "A New Perspective" and the sprawling Hank Mobley collection "Straight No Filter." All classics of Blue Note's mid-'60s heyday, and all anchored by D.C. native Butch Warren. Then, in the middle of the decade, his credits just disappear. Warren, who's struggled with heroin addiction, left New York, came back to D.C. and spent the next few decades dealing with homelessness, hospitalization for paranoid schizophrenia and group houses, interspersed with periods where he's been a fixture at Twins or Columbia Station. Everything seems to be going well for Warren now, and he's headlining the weekly concert at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest tonight, along with longtime friend and supporter Peter Edelman and sax player Knud Jensen. Admission is just $5, and if you get there early, soul food supper is available from 6 to 8:30.

-- Fritz Hahn (March 2009)