Born: September 18, 1939 | Died: September 25, 2005 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Steve Marcus, a jazz saxophonist who was an early exponent of the style that came to be known as fusion.
A graduate of the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Marcus, who played tenor and soprano saxophones, had worked with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and Herbie Mann by the time he recorded his first album as a leader in 1968. Tomorrow Never Knows, produced by Mann, was not the typical journeyman jazzman's maiden effort.
With a supporting cast that included the rock-influenced electric guitarist Larry Coryell and a repertory that included the Byrds' hit Eight Miles High and the Beatles song that gave the album its title, it was one of the first attempts by a jazz musician to find common ground with the growing phenomenon of psychedelic rock. It was dismissed by some as a sellout but applauded by others as an adventurous blend of the new rock and the avant-garde jazz of John Coltrane. Two albums in a similar vein, Count's Rock Band and The Lord's Prayer, also produced by Mann, followed in 1969.
Marcus's synthesis of jazz and rock anticipated a movement, eventually christened fusion, that would come to be identified with Miles Davis and other well-known names. But he himself had limited success as a bandleader. In 1975, after two short-lived attempts at leading his own group, he returned to straight-ahead jazz and joined the big band led by the drummer Buddy Rich.
He was a featured soloist until Rich died in 1987, and he remained identified with Rich for the rest of his life - briefly as the musical director of a memorial big band and in recent years as a member of Buddy's Buddies, a quintet led by the drummer Steve Smith that plays Rich's music.