At age 4 he was already playing the accordion and had his hands on the bass in 1945 playing with the 5tet of To-To-Al Stale using an instrument that was rented for the season.
Member of the Bill ALEXANDRE septet at "Boeuf-Sur-Le-Toit" in 1948, according to "Melody Maker" the first European bebop group at that period.
Plays with Toots THIELEMANS Quartet du Hot Club de Belgique, with Francis COPPIETERS on piano and John WARD on drums
(Paris, Ch. Parker Jazz Festival at salle Pleyel, representing Belgium, in 1949).
Member of the orchestras of Jean OMER, Fud CANDRIX, Francis BAY, Jean ROBERT, Gus DELOOF, Bobby NARET, Stan BRENDERS, Jack SELS...
During the fifties, he is very active in the recording studios ( Léo SOURIS, Michel LEGRAND, Stéphane GRAPPELLI, Sacha DISTEL). He is hired to play with the orchestra of Jacques HELIAN in Paris where he meets the Belgians SADI, Edmond HARNIE, Janot MORALES as well as the famous drummer Kenny CLARKE,
with whom he starts a long time collaboration.
There are also jazz concerts and recordings with the Kenny CLARKE Sextet. (Charles Cros prize and Jazz Hot trophy).
Also played with Lee MORGAN, Martial SOLAL, J.J. JOHNSON, Lucky THOMPSON, Allen EAGER, Henri RENAUD et Billy BYERS.
Toured with Catherina VALENTE in Japan, Latin America and at the Olympia in Paris.
In 1958 he is ranked in "Dow Beat" at the tenth position, together with Pierre MICHELOT, in the new star category.
This was the result of a recording of "Kenny Clarke Sextet Play's The Music Of André HODEIR" (few awards).
In 1962, he joins the R.I.A.S. Big Band, the radio orchestra in Berlin and signs a recording contract with TELEFUNKEN
In 1967, he moved from Berlin to Köln and joins the big band of the WDR
( West Deutsche Rundfunk), with which he remained until end 1992.
In Cologne, he recorded for producer Gigi CAMPI with the Kenny CLARKE / Francy BOLAND Big Band, but also in a small group with Francy BOLAND and Kenny CLARKE plus guests like Don BYAS, SADI, Ronnie SCOTT, Johnny GRIFFIN, Tony COE, Eddie Lockjaw DAVIS etc. He also gave a few concerts with Dizzy GILLESPIE and Mike LONGO. Also recorded with WDR Big Band with guests : Bob BROOKMEYER, Manny ALBAM, Terry GIBBS, Bill HOLMAN, Buddy DE FRANCO, Phil WOODS, Sal NISTICO, Al COHN, Benny BAILEY, Carmen McRAE, Milt JACKSON, Cedar WALTON et Hank JONES. The drummers regularly appearing with the orchestra : Grady TATE, Mel LEWIS,
Adam NUSSBAUM, Jeff HAMILTON, John VAN HOLEN, John RILEY, Louie BELLSON, Terry CLARKE et Dennis MACKRELL.
In Belgium he played with saxophonist Fabrice ALLEMAN, singer Mary KAY, Nathalie LORIERS, SADI, Michel HERR, Richard ROUSSELET, Toots THIELEMANS, Félix SIMTAINE, Jeanfrançois PRINS, Al GOYENS and the BRT Big Band.
His pieces have been played a.o. by ACT Big Band.
In January 1993 he created SAX NO END as a tribute to the music of Belgian composer/arranger Francy BOLAND.
During the Jazz Middelheim Festival '97 (Antwerp), he led the BRUSSELS JAZZ ORCHESTRA, again in a tribute to Francy BOLAND.
In '98, he received the Prize of the Jury of the Belgian "Djangos d'Or" for his career achievements.
In '99, he concentrates on tributes to Duke ELLINGTON : TAKE A TRAIN SEXTET and
SAX PORT with a German sax section.
In 2005, Jean was commissioned by Jazz Middelheim to write for a band composed of 12 double basses, the Jean WARLAND Bass Orchestra. His arrangements on jazz classics were performed in Antwerp (in de Singel) by an international gathering of bass players, some from the classical world (arco), some from the jazz scene (pizzicato, a.o. Jean himself, Bas Cooymans, Bart de Nolf). Jan De Haas (drs) provided with some discrete brush work and the audience was amazed at the full range of sounds produced by the acoustic instruments.
Around the end of his public musical activity, he was frequently associated with Fabrice ALLEMAN (mosly on clarinet, and in duo), with a quartet (with Fabrice ALLEMAN, Michel HERR and Laurent MERCIER), and as a sideman a.o. with the Robert JEANNE Quartet (CD).
Jean WARLAND also published a book of memoirs (mostly in French) : Bass hits.
Jean WARLAND died after a long illness in his home near Cologne (D).
The Jean Warland Music Fund (his archives) has been acquired by the MIM (Brussels).