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Monthly Archives: May 2010

An Invitation

To my dear friends and colleagues in Bozeman, please join me, John Buck and Deborah Butterfield for the Hometown Celebration of 2010 Governor’s Arts Award at the prominent Gallatin Gateway Inn Thursday May 27th for presentations and performances to commemorate our reception of the Montana Arts Award.
The ceremony is invitation only so please send me an email if interested in attending or have other questions. Festivities start at 5 P.M. with awards beginning at 6.

I will be playing some of my compositions during the proceedings, so please come and share in the honors for what we do and be part of the celebration of our journeys.

Walrath, Roberti Transcended Time – Space

By Bill Kohlhaase – Reprinted from News and Reviews

During the break at trumpeter Jack Walrath and bassist Kelly Roberti’s Thursday, April 29 concert at the Story Mansion, I overheard Walrath speaking with a fan about schizophrenia, saying that those who have it lose a sense of time and that things that happened long ago might as well have happened yesterday. The discussion seemed appropriate to the evening’s performance. Playing a program that combined classic Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn numbers with glistening Walrath originals, the trumpeter seemed to transcend time and space in a way that made it seem all the same thing.
Walrath, born in Florida but raised in Montana, is something of a legend, as much for his composing and arranging as well as stints with Ray Charles, Charles Mingus and the Mingus Dynasty. His own recordings, obscure but cherished by aficionados, (including the remarkable 1988 Blue Note date Neohippis), are full of ambitious originals with off-beat titles such as Village of the Darned, The Lord’s Calypso and Meat. The chance to see him in such an intimate setting was a rare opportunity indeed.

Teaming with Roberti
something of a legend himself for his work with David Murray, Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Harris and others — Walrath played with flair and agility in a style that seemed especially suited to his graceful, sometimes athletic compositions. The quintet included saxophonist Alan Fauque, drummer Brad Edwards and 26-year-old guitarist Alex Nauman, all of whom seemed particularly suited for the something-old, something-new program.

After acknowledging Ellington’s 111th birthday, the group opened with a pair of his better-known numbers, Strayhorn’s “Take the ‘A Train” and Ellington’s “(In My) Solitude.” But the set took off when the band cut into Walrath’s “Rats and Wolves,” a tune better known as “Black Bats and Poles,” the name Mingus gave it when he included it on his landmark 1975 release, “Changes Two.” The tune’s thumping, three-note bass line was just the thing for Roberti, who decorated it with double-stops and a host of tonal and rhythmic variations. Walrath, appearing fit and playing with a surfeit of breath, took his solo outside of the piece’s anthem-like theme.

The tune made for a natural segue into more recent Walrath material. “Espionage,” “Is This An Epiphany Or What?” and “An Alien Playground at Twilight” all showed the same, somewhat twisted sense of theme and the composer’s ability to move a tune through a variety of moods and tempos. When “Alien Playground” broke at its close from its 5/4 drive to straight-ahead swing, the once-and-future tone of the program seemed complete.

Roberti, as always, elevated every tune. He produced a constant flow of jibes, echoes and counterpoints for his band mates while soloing with a steady narrative of ideas. His own contribution to the evening’s set list “The Final Drum,” was a somber, impressionistic tone poem that took on a Coltranesque-feel powered by Edwards’ rolling polyrhythms.

Fauque, playing alto most of the night, showed a good feel for the music if not making daring statements of his own. His best showing of the night came on “Espionage,” when he picked up the tenor to add some intrigue to the mid-tempo groove. Guitarist Nauman was the evening’s surprise, his electric comping tasteful and new-thing trendy, his improvs adding something smart and kinky to the music.

    The sound in the mansion’s living room was surprisingly warm and contained considering the room’s glass window’s and large entry into adjoining rooms. The space’s intimacy made the night something special, the horns playing un-amplified and Walrath taking time to spin tales of his work with Mingus, Ray Charles, The Simpsons’ composer Alf Clausen and how he came by some of his strange song titles.

The show was the launch of a monthly series hosted by Roberti. Though upcoming dates and performers have yet to be announced, this will be, considering Roberti’s connections in the jazz world and the fine stable of musicians who call Montana home, well worth attending.

Keep an eye on and
for more information.

Bill Kohlhaase has written about jazz for The Los Angeles Times, Downbeat and a host of other publications. Read more at The Cabbage Rabbit Review of Books and Music.

Playing the 4th of four gigs with the la…

Playing the 4th of four gigs with the late Jeanne Lee and Mal Waldron in Germany…I think it was ’98. Back stage Mr. Waldron was reminiscing between taking micro naps…it was a funny scene. Anyway, Jeanne said to me “Hey Kelly, on “Left Alone”…well have you heard how Dolphy let it go? Give up the changes and come with me after a few choruses…don’t be shy, just come with me.” Mal lifted his head up and said “she’ll get ya there” and then nodded again…I smiled huge. RIP Jeanne and Mal.

A night off, no gig in Missoula, MT…Em…

A night off, no gig in Missoula, MT…Em and I were staying out of the center of town at an intersection in the freeway that, in the morning would transport us up to Kalispell, MT. Cheap motel but we only had 8 hours to be there. she noticed that there was a bar across the parking lot. I told her that it was a strip joint…she giggled and said…”whoa, I have never spent much time in a strip joint!”….I said “strap it on, lets go!”. When we 1st walked in there was a dancer that was functioning at about %06 percent…we sat and we were high before we got there….Em did a rare thing and ordered us a few shots of tequila. The next dancer was on and driven. Em asked me for a $1 bill and walked up to the stage to sit down. I joined her and proceeded to giggle and give away about $50 that evening before stumbling back to the motel. Emily said it was one of the funnest and humorous nights of her life.

Emily, Brad Edwards and I had been out f…

Emily, Brad Edwards and I had been out for quite a while through the midwest and the south. We had come down to St. Louis and across the state to K.C. and Leavenworth Federal Pen…then south to Fayetteville, AR an onward to Tallequah, OK. Our next gig was in Oklahoma City 4 days down the road and Em decided she was going to fly back to NYC…take care of some business…and then fly to OK City to meet us. Brad and I took the long trek across Oklahoma and finally relaxed for a few days. I waited and waited to hear from Em about her arrival…she had the itinerary for the tour and I hadn’t heard from her. The day of the 1st gig we were really worried that we were up shit creek in the deep part. about 4 hours before we were to play Emily calls, finally and says I’ll be there in 2 hours…whew. Brad and I met her at the airport…we rushed into the city got her in her room for about 45min. I hit the bar to have a martini and then we made the gig. The music was wonderful that night. I have noticed there is a certain surrender when you have been out for a long tour that happens with the music…you give into it. There is a great laugh we got that night in the green room when Barney Kessell’s wife, Marilyn, came back to say hi and to give us Barney’s regards…that story will have to wait until another time.

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