Jack Walrath

Heavy Mirth

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Jack Walrath has long been heralded by astute writers who recognize his willingness to experiment in his writing and playing. This 2008 session pairs the veteran trumpeter (who served with Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, and as a member of Mingus Dynasty) with tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton, pianist Orrin Evans, Mingus Big Band bassist Boris Kozlov, and the in-demand drummer Jonathan Blake, interpreting nine stimulating originals by the leader. The rapid-fire, insistent theme of "Bassballs" proves immediately infectious. A spirited Latin undercurrent adds a twist to "Cloak and Dagger," with Walrath's powerful solo as its centerpiece. The jaunty "Anthropod Epiphany" has a humorous flavor, while the breezy "Roadkill" showcases Kozlov's fleet solo and Burton's full-bodied tenor. The loopy "Blood" sounds like something that Charles Mingus might have written. The bluesy "A Long, Slow, Agonizing Descent into the Depth of Despair" features Evans' delicious gospel-inflected piano, with a fine improvised vocal and a bit of playful scatting by TC III. Highly recommended.

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