Correspondence: Warren Luening

Rifftides reader Jack Greenberg writes:

Although your site is not specifically a West Coast jazz site, I was surprised that none of the jazz blogs I regularly read mentioned the recent passing of top LA trumpet player Warren Luening. As a trumpet player myself, I greatly admired Warren’s playing, and his reputation within the LA jazz community was such that I thought his passing wouild generate more notice than it did.

Luening died of cancer on March 18. He was 70. The New Orleans native was a professional from his early teens, playing in Bourbon Street clubs with established musicians and other emerging Crescent City stars including drummer Johnny Vidacovich and trombonist Jack Delaney. Not long after he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1950s, he became a member of Lawrence Welk’s orchestra, and in short order was one of the most versatile trumpeters in Hollywood’s film and television studios. Luening had a deep feeling for melody, was a valuable lead player and, when he had the opportunity, a fine improviser. There is little improvising in this feature with Welk, but his mature mastery of his instrument is apparent at a young age. Cracks about Welk’s businessman’s bounce rhythm aside, this 1959 performance is also a reminder of the level of musicianship in his band.

Fifty-one years later, Patrick Williams featured Luening in a big band concert of Williams arrangements. This video montage gathers several of his solos from the evening. Yes, that is trombonist Bill Watrous standing by but not heard in the video, and it looks like saxophonist Tom Scott next to Luening, and Luening’s close colleague Wayne Bergeron second from the left in the trumpet section.

Cat could play.

Warren Luening, RIP.

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  1. KENNY HARRIS says

    My friend composer/arranger John Parker often had Warren on the television shows he scored and he’s on the Dallas album we recorded.

  2. says

    Although not a ‘blog’ and perhaps not on reader Jack Greenberg’s radar the Yahoo group ‘Jazz West Coast’ had discussion (and photos) following Warren Luening’s passing. The discussion was led by John Altman, whose LA Big Band included Warren Luening from time to time.