Jack Walrath

Ballroom

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Jack Walrath has been around the jazz scene for quite some time, working with Charles Mingus and various Latin bands, in addition to recording quite a few albums on his own. On this occasion he is joined by the versatile pianist Bill Mays (a terrific composer and bandleader in his own right), Mingus Big Band bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Jonathan Blake. The trumpeter has frequently displayed a sense of humor in his music and it is definitely on display during a portion of this 2007 session. How can a listener not get a kick out of songs like "Death Is Just Around the Corner Cha Cha Cha," a spirited, happy go lucky bop vehicle with just a tinge of Latin rhythm? "He Was Such a Nice Quiet Boy!" darts all over the place in an unpredictable manner, while his heartfelt, bittersweet ballad "An Hour Blessed" shows his serious side, with Mays' lush piano providing the perfect backdrop. He has a bit of fun with his sassy arrangement of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel," playing down and dirty with a mute as Mays and the rhythm section saunter along with him. Few people will expect the Beatles' "Nowhere Man" to follow Walrath's dramatic introduction, which hints that something like "'Round Midnight" is on the way. The band also finds a new path into Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing")," which is played in furious fashion with a brilliant, rapid-fire muted trumpet solo reminiscent of Clark Terry.

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