Interesting Info

Marc Rosen's Musical Bio

Rosen started on clarinet. It was Benny Goodman’s fault. Rosen lived near the Ravinia Festival, an outdoor concert venue near Chicago. During the summer, his family spent many nights there, hearing jazz, pop, and classical concerts.

One particular evening, they went to see the King of Swing and his band. It was Benny on clarinet, with trumpet, trombone, and tenor sax, along with a rhythm section. The band was swinging hard when the weather decided to play along. First it got a little windy, then some distant drums playing with those on stage, then the lightning jammed with the band. Finally, the power went out. Suddenly, everyone was plunged into an eerie glow of only the emergency lights and the lightning flashes.

Benny strode confidently to the front of the stage, cupped his hands around his mouth, and yelled, “If you’ll be quiet, we’ll keep playing!” The several hundred people in the audience quieted down, and for thirty minutes the band swung on. You could hear every note, since no one moved except for the thunder of applause when each tune ended. It was magic, and Rosen knew right then, at around ten years old, that he had to learn the clarinet.

Rosen’s first professional gig was at the age of 14, for the Illinois state judge's convention in Chicago. He played clarinet and tenor sax in a jazz trio, with his brother playing flute and a friend playing keyboard. “I was amazed to discover that I could have fun playing and get paid,” Rosen said. Rosen’s trio grew into a five piece band called "Sweet Thunder." All during high school and part of college, "Sweet Thunder" toured the Midwest, playing weddings, corporate events, country club parties, bar mitzvahs, and select club dates. Rosen also played in his high school jazz band, which was fortunate enough to share the stage with jazz luminaries such as Urbie Green, Bobby Rosengarden, and Don Ellis.

Frequent trips to Chicago during high school, and being allowed into the jazz clubs at an early age, gave Rosen an opportunity to hear and meet great players such as Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball and Nat Adderly, Dave Brubeck, and, most importantly, the legendary baritone sax player, cool jazz arranger and composer, Gerry Mulligan. Rosen remembers, “The first time I heard Gerry Mulligan was at a small club called Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase. At the time, the club was downstairs from a rock room. It was a small place, and we went at least once or twice a month.  Mulligan was there with a quartet, and as usual, we sat about one foot in front of the stage. Mulligan's baritone looked like it was held together with tape and string. I was blown away by his sound on the baritone. I just couldn't believe the big horn could be so beautiful and expressive. That was when I really started studying the baritone and trying to emulate what I had heard."

Rosen furthered his studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a music major on the baritone sax. There he played in several of the jazz bands. Rosen also had the opportunity to play in several professional bands throughout his college years, and got to open for and appear with Joe Williams, Count Basie, Cannonball Adderly and other greats during those years.

After college Rosen eventually moved to Los Angeles. His experiences as a professional player continued with several bands, appearing at mostly corporate and wedding functions. Rosen took a hiatus from playing professionally when his life took the path of a law student. The rigor of law school did not allow his schedule to continue to gig and study at the same time. After graduation he moved to San Diego to start working as an attorney. His love of music never left him, though, and the spark of playing rekindled its fire again. Rosen began playing out again in San Diego with several different bands.

For a few years, he played baritone sax, clarinet, and soprano sax with “Big Time Operator,” a very successful 10 piece swing band. The group played Las Vegas often, including gigs at the Desert Inn and monthly appearances at the Hard Rock Cafe Casino. They also made regular appearances at the Derby, the Viper Room, the Hollywood Athletic Club and other high profile venues in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The group also appeared on national TV shows. Big Time Operator recorded a CD called "High Altitude Swing," which sold several thousand copies throughout the country.

Rosen then moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, he played with the high powered blues band the “Motor Kings”, which, among other great gigs, opened for Delbert McClinton. Rosen also played clarinet and was the leader for The Rio Chama Trio, and produced a CD of the trio called “Soul Space.”
Rosen's fascination with cool jazz and the bari sax has never waned. One reviewer of Rosen’s CD “Monsoon” said, "With [Mulligan] as his musical model, [Rosen] developed his own baritone sax sound and style. [Rosen] has musical talent and intelligence, and he has practically resurrected the best of Gerry Mulligan. ...[Rosen's] tone quality and facility on the baritone sax [are] unusually nice..."

Rosen continues to play both bari sax and clarinet, crossing both the swing and cool jazz styles. Recently, while living on the east coast, he got the opportunity to study with Jeff Antoniuk and others to continue his musical education.  Now back in Tucson, Arizona, he's continuing his musical adventure.

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