RANDY SCOTT MARSH
Randy Marsh has performed with Parts of Perception, Phlegethon, Turning Point, Wendel Harrison, Claude Black, Eddie Russ, The Bobby Charles Band , Jr. Valentine & the All Stars, Mike Grace Quartet, San Francisco Mime Troupe, Jimmy Forrest, Randissimo, Little Kids Band, Organissimo, Big Organ (B3), All Star Band, to name a few.
Randy Marsh is known throughout the state of Michigan as the drummer of choice. His resume is distinguished and long but he has never rested on his well-deserved laurels.
Randy comes from a very musical bloodline. His grandfather, Bill Marsh, born outside of Grand Rapids in the Lincoln Lake/ Greenville area, is shown playing banjo in his early band pictures. He eventually made the switch to guitar because banjo went out of style. He played in some of the early nightclubs in Grand Rapids. The band that he was in during 1929 was called the Exposition Band.
This picture was taken in 1929. Second from left is Denny Noggles (trombone) Fourth from left is Bill Marsh (banjo). The Exposition Band
Randy’s father, Arno, played all over the Grand Rapids area, beginning as a teenager, eventually auditioning at Fruitport Pavilion in Spring Lake for Woody Herman, and he got the job. He played tenor in Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, Stan Kenton’s big band, Lionel Hampton’s big band, Maynard Ferguson’s big band, and with musicians such as Buddy Rich and Sammy Davis Jr., among many others. He is still a staple of the Las Vegas big band scene after over 50 years.
Woody Herman, left, and Arno Marsh on the saxophone.
Yet Randy credits his mother, Grand Rapids jazz singer Mary Lou Marsh, for giving him his deep love of music, and especially jazz.
Randy’s mother, Mary Lou Marsh, seated to the far left, while performing at the Cotton Club Casino which was the Plantation Ballroom, located on Plainfield N.E. Also pictured is band leader Jim Brown, standing at the extreme right. The saxophone section is composed of, left to right, Johnny Bissell, Bob Katiya, Ray Kuzniak and Bob Yeager. Other musicians are unidentified.
Chicago drummer Guy Viverose, who has played in Grand Rapids nightspots, inspired Randy to learn jazz drumming. At the time he saw Guy play he had already worked with two rock bands called Parts of Perception, from 1967-1969, and Phlegethon, 1969-1971.
Pictured below: Randy Marsh with Phlegethon at Fountain Street Church (3.29.70)
Randy speaks about his music career:
“Though growing up in a jazz background, I have performed in a wide variety of music genres and entertainment settings. My music career officially started at age 18 in early 1970 rockin’ with Aris Hampers’ band the Phlegethon. Throughout the 70s I played… locally and statewide in other bands & projects including Bobby Charles, Wendel Harrison, Claude Black, and Eddie Russ.” (During 1973, Randy played with the Bobby Charles Band featuring vocalist Nancy Westbrook, at the Tiki Lounge in Grand Rapids.)
Bobby Charles: “This was a very memorable group that played at the Tiki Lounge on Eastern Avenue for 3-4 years. This group performed for Yamaha at NAMM Shows in Chicago, Toronto, Anaheim, plus did clinics around the country. Note: all the amps, drums and Dennis’s sax were all made by Yamaha. It was a fun time. ”
Randy Marsh: “In 1976 I toured 6 countries in Europe with the Mike Grace Quartet, with guitarist Bruce Dunlap & Kevin O’Connell, doing a record (and back breaking) 72 performances in 30 days! In 1978 I was the drummer on a live recording at the Alibi Nightclub with legendary tenor sax man Jimmy “Night Train” Forrest entitled, “Heart Of The Forrest” featuring Philly jazz organ legend Shirley Scott; released in 1981 on Palo Alto Records. In late 1981 I formed a popular jazz-fusion band with Wilton Machen, Bob VanStee, and Tim Ferguson known as Turning Point. In 1983 we released a locally successful recording and became a big draw in performance venues throughout Michigan. December of 1985, I moved to Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area and quickly found work on the Bay Area music scene.
From 1986 to 1988 I toured the United States, Canada, and Europe with the “Tony Award” winning theater company, the San Francisco Mime Troupe.
Since returning to Michigan in 1989 I performed through the 90s at various music venues throughout Michigan and the Midwest with different project bands and artists including Jr. Valentine, Mel Dalton, Edye Evans Hyde, Tom & CheriLyn Hagen at Tootsie VanKelly’s, Mark Kahny, Mary Rademacher, Bob VanStee,, Charlie Hoats, Paul Lesinski, Chris Moberley, and Rick Hicks.
In November of 2000 I joined organ wizard Jim Alfredson & guitarist Joe Gloss and together started the popular eclectic organ trio known as “Organissimo”. We gained international attention playing a jazz festival in 2007 in Tel Aviv Israel. We have 4 CD albums out on Big O Records and a DVD of the show we did for ‘Backstage Pass’ in 2009. Organissimo has a FB page, a website, and has a jazz forums with well over a million posts! As well as occasional Organissimo gigs I am working with the Jeff Haas Trio for the Jazz @ Sunset series at Chateau Chantal, Ron Getz, Don Julin, Claudia Schmidt, Steve Talaga, Crispin Campbell, and Steve Hilger.”
This is by no means a complete list of his musical accomplishments.
Randy has been drumming for over 40 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Like his hero Art Blakey, Randy’s drumming is truly one of kind.
If he’s not behind the drums, chances are Randy is out biking the trails and kayaking the rivers in the wilds of Michigan.
Doxy – YouTube (6:10) Randy and Arno Marsh at Jazz at the Zoo Grand Rapids Michigan. July 1, 2013
Saxman Arno Marsh joins his son, drummer Randy Marsh, for an evening at Rockford Michigan’s Grill One-Eleven
Randy and his father, Arno Marsh
Check out Randy’s Facebook page for more about the Marsh-Man!
Organissimo in Lansing!
Oranissimo in Lansing (YouTube) (1:42)
” Listening carefully to Randy Marsh play drums and watching him do it are two completely different activities. It’s hard to do justice to both at once — like wine-tasting on a pogo stick. “
~ Lawrence Consentino, City Pulse, November 2004
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Sunday Night Jazz at SpeakEZ Lounge (Video) – Spins on Music