326

Jack Walrath: Ballroom

Francis Lo Kee By

Sign in to view read count
Jack Walrath: Ballroom Jack Walrath not only displays tremendous trumpet playing, a rich and varied approach to composition and wonderful band, he also puts something into this fantastic CD that's missing from too much new jazz: a sense of fun and humor. That's not to say that it isn't sensitive and touching at times—"An Hour Blessed" is arguably as gorgeous as anything ever recorded.

However, what is a listener to make of a version of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel"? Just the inclusion of a tune from the king of early rock 'n' roll can make one chuckle, but since the tune is a blues, Walrath channels Louis Armstrong, Bubber Miley, Hot Lips Page and Freddie Hubbard as he lays down some serious playing, complete with plunger mute effects. At the end of his solo, the band moves into a twisted stop-time section (something akin to what Walrath's former boss Charles Mingus would do in some of his pieces, harkening back to an older technique of jazz), a drum solo (Johnathan Blake) provides a bridge to another twisted stop-time section that is a background for Boris Kozlov's wonderful arco bass solo. Pianist Bill Mays, who is magnificent throughout, plays a lead that also has one foot in the older jazz vocabulary, but mostly brings a modern harmonic sound and virtuosity that, again, playfully cuts an ironic path across The King's hit.

On the original "He Was Such A Nice Quiet Boy!," Walrath and band even move into free jazz territory, reminding us again recalling that the older jazzmen always said that this music is about telling a story. What then could be the story behind the leader's original "Death is Just Around the Corner Cha Cha Cha"? The happy-sounding tune features great improvised solos from all members of the quartet and is certainly not a funeral dirge. "Impure Inspiration" is a Walrath blues in F where, in the middle of an intense, astounding solo, he calmly quotes John Lewis' "Afternoon in Paris," Mays does some unaccompanied stride and Blake's solo should make him a drum god. When the band plays Johnny Nash's reggae-pop hit "I Can See Clearly Now" the band plays dark, tense minor chords where the lyrics would be "sun shiny day." Well, if you can laugh at death you can cry on a sunny day. Musical food for thought with amazing jazz playing, this recording can't be praised highly enough.


Track Listing: Hold My Bag, Please; Bumpy; (It's Not that Easy) Bein' Green; Nowhere Man; Death Is Just Around the Corner Cha Cha Cha; Heartbreak Hotel; He Was Such a Nice Quiet Boy!; An Hour Blessed; It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing; I Can See Clearly Now; Impure Inspiration.

Personnel: Jack Walrath: trumpet; Bill Mays: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: SteepleChase Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "2-Man Jazz Band" CD/LP/Track Review 2-Man Jazz Band
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Lingo" CD/LP/Track Review Lingo
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "For Free" CD/LP/Track Review For Free
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Meditations" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "It's A Man's World" CD/LP/Track Review It's A Man's World
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 12, 2016
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!