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Alto Saxophonist Jon Whinnery died on May 24, 2011. A belated mention here on SOTW. I ran into his playing while doing a search on new Warne Marsh videos. And boy doesn't he sound like Warne on alto? He studied with him it seems. What a melodic improviser a true original. The following below is from his tribute video.

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REST IN PEACE
It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Jon Denis Whinnery. Jon passed away Tuesday, May 24, 2011, after a year-long struggle with cancer. One of the most important jazz saxophonists of our generation has passed away in near total obscurity.

Following a strong response to treatment last fall, Jon returned to playing, and performed several successful concerts in the Los Angeles area during the past six months.

Music was Jon's love and his great gift. Born in Los Angeles, Jon studied for 17 years with Warne Marsh. Strongly influenced by Charlie Parker, Marsh, Phil Woods, and Paul Desmond, Jon had a tone, technique, and inventiveness that were largely unmatched. His playing was an utter marvel, a source of relentless beauty and creativity.

Though he received little critical attention during his lifetime, he was highly regarded by every musician privileged to hear him or play with him, and has left his mark on several recent recordings, including CDs by Frank Morrocco and Putter Smith.

In addition to playing, Jon was a most beloved teacher, impacting the lives of hundreds of students and their families. As one student recently told him, "You have always been more than a saxophone teacher to me...you showed no judgment and always made me feel I was worth something."

A loyal friend to many people, Jon had a subtle but wry sense of humor, a piercing intellect, a steadfast discipline to his art, and a penetrating curiosity. Jon is survived by his mother Marie, his Aunt Jolie, a host of close friends, and the love of his life, Judy.

He will be deeply missed.

You can hear his solos at this link:
http://www.box.net/shared/slmnnfycuaxt52oplr61


http://www.box.net/shared/vkz1gh174x#/shared/vkz1gh174x/1/51245366/519598802/1
 

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I used to hear Mr. Whinnery play in L.A. He was a very accomplished player and a fluid, intelligent improviser. His playing was really beautiful. Jon sounded to my ears much like Gary Foster's style, but slightly different. What a loss when an exceptional musician passes away at a relatively early age like this.
 

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Thank you so much for posting this.
Pure tone and great ideas....a very beautiful player.
 

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Someone I'd not heard of, playing beautifully on the soft side of the horn. Thanks for posting this...
 

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I find this really strange about Wayne Marsh ,
Marsh died on stage at the Los Angeles club Donte's in 1987, in the middle of playing the tune "Out of Nowhere"


Out of nowhere wow
 

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I decided to revive this 4-year old thread after being reminded of Whinnery over the weekend. It's funny how odd connections can be. I was watching the old Bond film "Diamonds are Forever" over the weekend. One of the bad guys, whom Bond dispatches with a flourish at the end of the film, is played by the great bassist Putter Smith. I googled Smith to find some of his recordings (and ended up buying the duo recording he did with Gary Foster, BTW) and came across Jon Whinnery's name as a sideman on Smith's recording "Home". I found this thread from searching on SOTW Forum. It is the only mention which Whinnery gets on the forum.

As noted above, Jon studied with Warne Marsh for 17-years and is mentioned several times in the Marsh bio, "An Unsung Cat". Fortunately, the link provided in the original post is still active and I was able to download 26 of Whinnery's solos. These evidently come from a variety of settings and the recording quality, while generally pretty good, is mixed. Compiling this collection was clearly a labor of love for someone. Who ever you are, thank you for taking the time to preserve this legacy! Otherwise, there are only two recordings which I have so far identified featuring Jon Whinnery's work; the aforementioned Smith recording and a quartet date by accordianist Frank Marocco.

Jon Whinnery was definitely and "unsung cat" too. His tone and to some extent his phrasing are very much influenced by Paul Desmond, whereas his harmonic ideas and rhythmic approach are very much influenced by Marsh. Check out Jon Whinnery's unfortunately limited recorded output. If you like Desmond, Konitz, Marsh, Gary Foster etc., you should definitely appreciate this man's playing.
 

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Thanks for reviving it Bob. i missed the first time around. Jon was a very special player and the collection of solos linked above priceless.
 

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Wow, at this late date it seems a little odd to post on this, but then Jon was kind of an odd guy. I studied with him for about 2 years in '88 and '89. I'm a guitar player first, but Jon introduced me to the Lennie Tristano method of which he was great at, I think it's a large part of why he played so good. Basically it boils down to practicing away from your instrument, so me being a guitar player really didn't matter. Jon had a little plaque on his kitchen wall that read, "Dance Now, Pay Later". It always cracked me up. But somehow I think Jon payed in life and is dancing now. For a man, that if there were perfect justice in the world, he would be much better known this is my small tribute. Dance Now Jon!
 

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Such a beautiful player. I'm glad his name is getting out there for people who haven't heard of him.
 
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