Butch Warren

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Throughout his career, Butch Warren was a bit of a throwback to an earlier era, when bassists stuck to walking behind soloists. Although a fairly modern player, Warren was only an occasional soloist and…
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Throughout his career, Butch Warren was a bit of a throwback to an earlier era, when bassists stuck to walking behind soloists. Although a fairly modern player, Warren was only an occasional soloist and was at his best accompanying other musicians. His first professional job was playing in his father Edward Warren's group at age 14. Early on, the bassist worked locally in the Washington, D.C., area, most notably with Stuff Smith. In 1958, he moved to New York to play with Kenny Dorham at the Five Spot and stayed in town throughout most of his career. During the next six years, Warren was in great demand for club work and appeared on many recordings, particularly dates for the Blue Note label led by Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, Stanley Turrentine, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Clark, and Dorham. He was a member of Thelonious Monk's quartet from 1963-1964 and then moved back to Washington, D.C., where he worked on a television show from 1965-1966. After becoming seriously ill, Butch Warren largely dropped out of music, although he played on a part-time basis (including with Richie Cole in 1975) during subsequent years. He never had an opportunity to lead his own recording dates until the 21st century, when his first album as a leader, 2011's French 5tet, was recorded at the end of a weeklong tour of France, and his second album, 2012's Butch's Blues, was recorded with an ensemble of D.C.-area musicians. Butch Warren died of lung cancer at a hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland in October 2013; he was 74 years old.