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Marvin E. Ashbaugh
Marvin E. Ashbaugh
  • Born October 4, 1914 - Lamar, Prowers Co., CO
  • Deceased August 21, 1974 - Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., CA,aged 59 years old
  • Jazz Pianist
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  • Married November 20, 1941 to Wavel Davis, born about 1911 - Oklahoma


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Individual Note

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Linked to: Timothy Michael Dowling, 6th cousin 2x removed
Name Alias: Marvin Ash

Social Security Number:440-14-1269
"Marvin Ash was a remarkable and under-recorded New Orleans style pianist who actually spent much of his life actually wanting to visit the Crescent City, making him all that much more remarkable for his playing gifts. Born in Lamar, Colorado, he grew up in Emporia, Kansas, playing with a number of bands as early as his high school years. Among the known musicians he worked with from the town that produced the legendary Count Basie are Wallie Stoeffer, composer Con Conrad, Herman Waldman and Jack Crawford. He was greatly inspired while visiting Abilene one day in 1931 and heard "Fatha" Earl Hines perform in his capacious style. There was also an encounter one day at Jenkin's Music when seated at one of three grand pianos was Joe Sullivan teaching Fats Waller and Arthur Schutt, sitting at the other two, his own Little Rock Getaway. It set a desire in Ash to be able to play like all three of them at one time.
When Marvin was 22 he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to expand his musical horizons and do some work in radio as a studio pianist, musical director and sometimes announcer of station KVOO. With so much exposure to recordings from all around the country he was able to further hone his skills while absorbing a variety of piano styles. Among his favorites influences were James P. Johnson and Fats Waller masters of stride piano, boogie man Pete Johnson, who he played relief shift for at the Sunset Cafe in Kansas City, and jazz players Hines, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, and long-time friend and traveling roommate Bob Zurke. On November 20, 1941, Marvin married Wavel Davis, a Creek/Cherokee American Indian-descendant of one of Tulsa's pioneer families. They had been married for 33 years at the time of his death.
After a few years in Tulsa, Ash was inducted into the Army for World War II service. After a five year stint he was let loose in Los Angeles and quickly found a place with the band of trumpeter Wingy Manone, resulting in some of his earliest recordings. Ash also played in many of the clubs around the greater Los Angeles area. In 1947, jazz guitarist/banjoist Nappy Lamare and associates opened Club 47 (named for Musician's Union #47, not the year) on famed Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, an active music strip in the burgeoning San Fernando Valley. Ash was a regular there for the five years Lamare ran the club, and it led to his initial sessions with Clive Acker's Jump Records as a soloist in late 1947 and with Rosy McHargue's Memphis Five the following year. It also resulted in work with Lamare and others at Capitol Records (both companies used Radio Recorders, the best Hollywood studio at that time), recording as Nappy Lamare's Levee Loungers and Marvin Ash and his Mason Dixon Music. He also kept regular broadcast perforamcne stints on radio at KRKD and TV on KHJ, as well as the aptly named Hangover Club in Hollywood.
Ash's accurate no-nonesense jazz playing and his propensity for ragtime caught the ear of Capitol's producer and A&R man Lou Busch (who would later gain fame as Joe Fingers Carr), and he invited Ash to record a few more sides in 1949 with a small ensemble. Most of these would be incorporated into the groundbreaking 10" and later 12" Honky Tonk Piano LPs. His jazz interpretations of Maple Leaf Rag, Cannon Ball and Fidgety Feet were a nice contrast to Busch's arranged honky-tonk style and colleague Ray Turner's brilliant novelty recordings. Still, there would be no further work with Capitol.
Ash spent much of the 1950s playing in various lounges in the Los Angeles area, but had few recording dates under his name, instead working on many undocumented studio dates. Some include recording or live sessions with trombonist Jack Teagarden, clarinet player Matty Matlock, New Orleans' sax player Pud Brown and cornetist Pete Daily, a favorite of Dragnet creator Jack Webb. Marvin's most significant sessions resulted in a continuous suite of an album for Decca titled New Orleans at Midnight, a virtual pastiche of elegant jazz and even a Scott Joplin rag. He also found some steady employment in the Walt Disney music department as the director of the original Mickey Mouse Club. He played for movie and television soundtracks, as well as with sometimes-Firehouse Five Plus Two member George Bruns and his aptly-named Wonderland Jazz Band. He was often sighted with this group or with his own small ensemble playing for events at Disneyland as well.
After his retirement from Disney in his mid 50s, Ash spent his last few years playing older jazz, stride and (sometimes grudgingly) ragtime in the cocktail lounge of a large Los Angeles area bowling alley. He had a steady stream of regular customers and admirers, and was reportedly very happy with the situation, although he was still called on for special gigs up through his death. He died in 1974 at age 60, largely as a result of a heart problem caused by Rheumatic Fever as a child, leaving many jazz and ragtime fans wanting for more in terms of recorded legacy, but also sadly forgotten by all but a few hard-core fans. His ability to merge styles, and also to approach the same piece in many different ways made him versatile and listenable, and his "always-on" smiling demeanor made him a popular friend to all who crossed paths with him."
Source/Author: Ragtime Music Historian Bill Edwards.

  Photos and archival records

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 Family Tree Preview

                                                                             _____|16_Frederick Ashbaugh ca 1770-1837
                                                   _____|8_Martin Ashbaugh 1804-1901
                                                  /                         ¯¯¯¯¯|17_Barbara Steiner 1774-
                         _____|4_John B. Ashbaugh 1841-
                        /                        \
                       /                          ¯¯¯¯¯|9_Christina Barbary 1804..1805-1889
|2_Roy Ashbaugh 1884-
|                      \
|                       ¯¯¯¯¯|5_Emeline Cummins 1848-
|--1_Marvin E. Ashbaugh 1914-1974
|3_Nora x 1895-1974