Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Jim Waller Big Band: Bucket List


Jim Waller Big Band: Bucket List


Sign in to view read count
Jim Waller Big Band: Bucket List
One glance at Jim Waller's silver mane is enough to make it clear he is no young lion. In fact, Waller, a veteran composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist who calls San Antonio, Texas, home, is nearing his eighth decade. Even though Waller's career has been long and successful, there was one item on his Bucket List that hadn't been crossed off—until now. Waller wanted to lead and record a big band of his own. And so he has. It is a splendid band too, securely anchored by guest drummer Will Kennedy (formerly of the Yellowjackets) and enhanced by Waller's sunny arrangements, animated solos and seven of his original compositions.

As if to show that nothing is beyond the pale, Waller has even updated George Gershwin's classic "Rhapsody in Blue," which helped usher in the era of modern jazz when introduced by Paul Whiteman's orchestra in 1924 (with the composer at the piano), using a six-member string section to deepen the mood. Waller solos on tenor sax on nine numbers, organ on the well-named "Funksuite 109," soprano sax on "This Is It." On tenor, his style leans more toward Georgie Auld or Charlie Ventura than, say, Jimmy Heath or George Coleman. There are five vocals by Jacqueline Sotelo who skims through them without ruffling any feathers or turning any heads. Of the five, two were associated with Peggy Lee ("I Love Being Here with You," "Why Don't You Do Right") and one with Ray Charles ("Georgia on My Mind").

While the charts for Sotelo are admirable, it is on the nine instrumentals that the band really shines, starting with Waller's rhythmically impressive "Samba for Suzell" (written for his late wife), and continuing with the emphatic "New Blue Funk" (Bill King, flute) and shuffling "Blues for Los Blues," a jazz-rock group with whom Waller played in the late '60s and early '70s (Jason Galbraith, tenor; Joey Colarusso, baritone). Waller also wrote (and arranged) the well-grooved "Waltz for Laura," on which he solos trimly with trumpeter Lee "Sparky" Thomason. Bill Doggett's soul-drenched "Honky Tonk" and Billie Holiday's sermonesque "God Bless the Child" (vocal by Sotelo) precede the nimble finale, "This Is It" (radiant solos by trumpeter Curtis Calderon and Waller on soprano).

First-class band, superb arrangements. High marks for both, tempered to a degree by the garden-variety vocals but nonetheless recommended for its many pleasurable moments.

Track Listing

Samba for Suzell; I Love Being Here with You; New Blue Funk; Blues for Los Blues; Georgia on My Mind; Waltz for Laura; Rhapsody in Blue; Why Don’t You Do Right; Funk Suite 109; A Ballad for Bob; Goody Goody; Honky Tonk; God Bless the Child; This Is It.


Jim Waller
composer / conductor
Adrian Ruiz
Alex Gomez
Lee Thomason
Bill King
saxophone, alto
Brian Christensen
saxophone, alto
Adam Carrillo
saxophone, tenor
Jason Galbraith
saxophone, tenor
Matthew Maldonado
saxophone, tenor
Joey Colarusso
saxophone, baritone
Libby Barnette
french horn
Jaime Parker
Gilbert Garza
Mark Hill
Martin McCain
Jason Valdez
guitar, electric
Additional Instrumentation

Andy Langham: piano (10); Georgie Padilla: congas, percussion (1, 13); Joe Caploe: timpani (7); Will Kennedy: drums; Jacqueline Sotelo: vocals. String section (Serenade in Blue)—Anastasia Parker: concertmaster; Dr. Stephanie Westney: violin; Eric Siu: violin; Yang Guo: viola; David Wang: viola; Ken Freudigman: cello.

Album information

Title: Bucket List | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Self Produced



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Nimble Digits
Geoff Stradling
The Death Of Kalypso
Angles + Elle-Kari With Strings
Soundlift Berlin-New York
Stephen Gauci / Joe Hertenstein / Alexander von...


The Seagull's Serenade
Dominik Schürmann
Heartland Radio
Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.