Saxophonist Jeff Marx, Who Toured the World, Dies at 62
Saxophonist Jeff Marx, 62, died on December 16, 2013, at his home in the suburbs of Detroit, where he was born and raised. Marx began playing the tenor saxophone in 1973, later adding soprano and mezzo-soprano saxes, harmonica, and flutes. Residing successively in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, and Detroit, and touring widely in the United States and Europe, he crafted his own distinctively emotive style rooted in the work of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Joe Henderson.
In the mid '70s Marx moved to Berkeley, California, to study with Hal Stein. In Oakland and San Francisco he played with Eddie Henderson and Mark Levine. Next residing in New York for 14 years, he played with Reggie Workman, Steve Slagle, Kevin McNeal, Donald Byrd, Ed Schuller, Jim Pepper, Gene Jackson, Ira Coleman, Santi Debriano, and Dave Stryker, among others. From 1985–90 he co-led the group Second Sight with John Esposito, Jeff Siegel, Dave Douglas, Allen Murphy and Frederick Berryhill. Marx contributed compositions to the band's two studio recordings, Flying with the Comet (Sunjump Records) and the soon-to-be-released Tiger Tracks (Sunjump).
In New York Marx played at the Greenwich Village Jazz Festival and various clubs including Mikell's, The West End Café, and Visiones. His radio performances included WKCR in New York City as well as the National Public Radio memorial program for his friend and colleague Jim Pepper. Subsequent European performances included concerts at the Cascais Portugal Jazz Fest and at venues in Spain, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria. Performances in the European Union saw him working with Jeff Jerolamon, Czech/US Out (featuring Czech bassist Jaromir Honzák and Jeff "Siege" Siegel), and the Marx, Siegel, and Esposito Trio.
From 1993 to 2011 Marx resided in Chicago, performing locally and traveling to Detroit, New York, Memphis, Little Rock, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. and Ann Arbor, playing clubs, concert halls, and the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival in 2002 and 2003. In 2008, he appeared at the Morse Theater performing the music of Kahil Elzabar and Elbio Barilari with an all-star Chicago group, and at Ravinia, Millenium Park, and venues in concerts presented by a number of regional Jazz societies. He performed regularly in Chicago at the Velvet Lounge, the Green Mill, and Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston, Illinois.
While living in Chicago Marx worked with Don Bennet, Malachi Thompson, Jesse Davis, Harrison Bankhead, Jim Trompeter, Eric Hochberg, Reuben Hoch's Chassidic Jazz Project, Fred Anderson and Bob Murad. He returned to New York regularly for recordings and performances with Siegel and Esposito at venues including Bard College, the Stone (New York City), and Community Music Space (Red Hook). He also continued his creative collaboration in NYC with photographer Todd Weinstein, a life long friend who provided the cover art for most of Marx's CDs.
In 2000 Marx organized a band with pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Santi Debriano, and drummer Jeff Siegel for his first outing as a leader, Great Unknown on his own Naugual label, produced by Ben Bierman. He recorded his second CD as a leader, Treading Air Breathing Fire (2003 Soluna Records), with Esposito, piano; Ira Coleman, bass; and Peter O'Brien, drums; again featuring several of his own compositions. Allaboutjazz.com reviewer Celeste Sunderland wrote that Treading Air Breathing Fire "ponders metaphysical relations on an immense scale . . . while Marx wildly churns out vibrantly diverse streams of notes."
In 2006 Marx recorded a duo CD with Siegel titled Dreamstuff (Ayler Records), followed by a 2008 tour of Germany and the Czech Republic with Siegel and Honzák. Stuart Kremsky in Cadence described Marx's playing as "varying his sound from rich and burred in the lower registers to shrill but controlled in the upper range, all the while having a vigorous give and take with Siegel . . . clearly enunciating [his] immersion in the Jazz tradition and [his] commitment to move the music forward."
A continuation of his work with Siegel with the addition of Esposito
resulted in the release of Inyo (2009 Sunjump) a CD that "could best be described as unquiet meditations or chaotic lyricism . . . a true moment of musical Zen created by three masterful musicians . . . saxophonist Jeff Marx takes some bold flights on the saxophone, " wrote Jakob Baekgaard in allaboutjazz.com.
In 2011 Marx reclaimed Detroit as his base of operations where he performed in such clubs as Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Bert's Marketplace, Cliff Bells and Bird of Paradise (Ann Arbor). Amongst the Detroit musicians he played with are Bill Meyer and Jesse Kramer He returned to New York for gigs and recordings. He completed another CD with Esposito and Siegel titled Tahrir (Sunjump 2012) and in spring 2012 completed his final tour of Germany and Austria.
Jeff Marx is survived by his sister, Fern Marx, and father, Martin Marx, along with cousins and many friends.
1986 - Second Sight Flying With The Comet Sunjump
1987 - Second Sight Tiger Tracks Sunjump
1992 - West End Avenue 3 - Ruben Hoch (Bellaphon/L+R)
1999 - Don Bennett Reaching For A Star
2000 - Jeff Marx Great Unknown Naugual
2003 - Jeff Marx Treading Air Breathing Fire Soluna
2006 - Marx/Siegel Dreamstuff Ayler
2009 - Esposito/Marx/Siegel Inyo Sunjump
2012 - Esposito/Marx/Siegel Tahrir Sunjump
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