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Warren Vaché Sr.

Born: 1914 in Brooklyn, NY
Died: February 4, 2005 in Rahway, NJ

Bassist, jazz patriarch and historian

by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2005 Todd S. Jenkins

Bassist Warren Vaché, Sr., one of New Jersey's most prominent jazz musicians and writers, died of heart failure, complicated by pneumonia and prostate cancer, on February 4, 2005. Vaché, the father of cornetist Warren Vaché Jr. and clarinetist Allan Vaché, was ninety years old.

Vaché started off wanting to be a drummer, but found a far greater demand for bassists. He was better known for his writing and jazz advocacy than for his playing, although his musical career included jamming with the Condon gang at Nick's, frequent gigs with Doc Cheatham, and leading his own traditional jazz units like the Syncopatin' Seven. The band recorded albums for Jazzology, including Swingin' and Singin' (1990) and The Syncopatin' Seven Celebrate the Music of Isham Jones (1996). Vaché worked more regularly in other professions, including electronics and musical sales and repair, and retired from playing music less than a decade ago.

Beginning in the 1970s, Vaché was the central sponsor of the push to honor jazz musicians on U.S. postage stamps, which finally bore fruit in 1995. He was the founder of the Jersey Jazz Society and editor of its Jersey Jazz magazine, and the author of several books on less-remembered jazzmen, including Crazy Fingers: Claude Hopkins' Life in Jazz (Smithsonian Institute Press) and This Horn for Hire: The Life and Career of Pee Wee Erwin (Scarecrow Press). His biography of trumpeter Chris Griffin will be published by Scarecrow later in 2005. Vaché also contributed regularly to magazines like Jazz Journal International.

Warren Vaché, Sr. is survived by his wife, Madeline, and his two sons.

Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.

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