|Born||May 5, 1946|
Stuart, Florida, U.S.
Walrath was born in Stuart, Florida. He began playing the trumpet at the age of nine in 1955 while living in the small town of Edgar, Montana. He attributes his wide range of musical appreciation to a "lack of negative peer pressure which so often happens in cities".
In 1964 he graduated from Joliet High School and attended the Berklee College of Music. He pursued a composition diploma program instead of a full degree program so that he could concentrate on music classes. At Berklee, he backed a number of R&B singers in the Boston and Cambridge areas and gigged with his fellow students. He worked in the band Change with bassist Gary Peacock. He graduated from in 1968.
In 1969 Walrath relocated to the West Coast and found work in Los Angeles's jazz scene. Soon he was a member of the band Revival, with trombonist Glenn Ferris, and the West Coast MotownOrchestra. He worked with Ray Charles for one tour of the U.S. In 1970 Walrath relocated to New York City.
Walrath spent the next several years working with mainstream and Latin jazz bands. In 1974 he was working in the band of saxophonist Paul Jeffrey when the leader introduced him to bassist Charles Mingus, a pioneer of bebop and post-bop jazz who was experiencing a career resurgence. Baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett had recently left Mingus's band, and Walrath was eager to fill the opening. He joined tenor saxophonist George Adams, pianist Don Pullen and drummer Dannie Richmond in the quintet, which was acclaimed as one of Mingus' finest ensembles and broke new ground by leaning towards free jazz and non-chordal improvisations. He played in the group until Mingus's death in 1979.
With Mingus he recorded Changes One and Changes Two, both for Atlantic Records in 1974. The latter album features Walrath's composition "Black Bats and Poles" (originally entitled "Rats and Moles" until Mingus decided it needed a darker name). Walrath has extended the Mingus legacy through his work with Mingus Dynasty, a mid-sized tribute band, and the Charles Mingus Big Band, coordinated by Mingus's widow, Sue Graham Mingus.
Ensembles under Walrath's leadership have included the Jack Walrath Group, Wholly Trinity, Hard Corps, the Masters of Suspense, and the Jack Walrath Quintet. In 1987 he received a Grammy nomination for a cover of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (on the album Master of Suspense) featuring Willie Nelson. His compositions have been performed and recorded by such artists as Hamiet Bluiett, Red Rodney, Larry Willis, Mike Clark, Cecil Brooks III, Ray Mantilla, Hank Jones, Zé Eduardo, and the Manhattan New Music Project.
Walrath has received composition grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Composition Grant and the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, and performance grants from the NEA and Quad City Arts. He has had compositions and arrangements commissioned for virtually every instrumental combination from symphony orchestra to solo piano. He has conducted seminars, master classes, music camps and clinics in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Israel, Finland and across the United States.
As leader or co-leader
- Demons in Pursuit, (Gatemouth, 1979)
- In Montana, (Labor, 1980)
- Revenge of the Fat People, (Stash, 1981)
- In Europe, (SteepleChase, 1982)
- A Plea for Sanity, (Stash, 1982)
- Jack Walrath Quintet at Umbria Jazz Festival, Vol. 1, (Red, 1983)
- Jack Walrath Quintet at Umbria Jazz Festival, Vol. 2, (Red, 1983)
- Killer Bunnies, (Spotlite, 1986)
- Wholly Trinity, (Muse, 1986 )
- Master of Suspense, (Blue Note, 1986)
- Neohippus, (Blue Note, 1988)
- Out of the Tradition, (Muse, 1990 )
- Gut Feelings, (Muse, 1990 ))
- Portraits in Ivory and Brass, (Mapleshade, 1992) with Larry Willis
- Serious Hang, (Muse, 1992)
- Journey, Man!, (Evidence, 1995)
- Hip Gnosis, (TCB, 1996)
- Solidarity, (ACT, 1996)
- Sonage by Duplexus, (Rara, 2000)
- Get Hit in Your Soul, (ACT, 2000)
- Invasion of the Booty Shakers, (Savant, 2001)
- Ballroom, (SteepleChase, 2008)
- Heavy Mirth, (SteepleChase, 2008)
- Forsooth, (SteepleChase, 2011)
- To Hellas and Back, (SteepleChase, 2013)
- Montana Wild Cats (w/pianist Philip Aaberg and bassist Kelly Roberti), Sweetgrass, 2013)
- Unsafe at Any Speed, (SteepleChase, 2015)
- The King Arrives, King Errisson, (Canyon, 1970)
- Changes One, Charles Mingus, (Atlantic, 1974)
- Changes Two, Charles Mingus, (Atlantic, 1974)
- Three or Four Shades of Blues, Charles Mingus, (Atlantic, 1977)
- Lionel Hampton Presents Charles Mingus, Charles Mingus, (Who's Who in Jazz, 1977)
- Cumbia & Jazz Fusion, Charles Mingus, (Atlantic, 1978)
- Live at Montreux, Mingus Dynasty, (Collectables, 1980)
- Dannie Richmond Plays Charles Mingus, Dannie Richmond, (Timeless, 1980)
- Tenor for the Times, Ricky Ford, (Muse, 1981)
- Something Like a Bird, Charles Mingus, (Atlantic, rec. 1979, issued 1981)
- Dannie Richmond Quintet, Dannie Richmond, (Gatemouth, 1981)
- Sax Maniac, James White, (Warner Bros., 1982)
- Dionysius, Dannie Richmond, (Red, 1983)
- In Case You Missed It, Charli Persip Superband, (Soul Note, 1984)
- No Dummies Allowed, Charli Persip Superband, (Soul Note, 1987)
- Give the Drummer Some, Mike Clark, (Stash, 1989)
- Hearinga Suite, Muhal Richard Abrams, (Black Saint, 1989)
- At Last, Lou Rawls, (Blue Note, 1989)
- The Jazz Tribe, Jazz Tribe, (Red, 1990)
- Blu Blu Blu, Muhal Richard Abrams, (Black Saint, 1991)
- Miles & Quincy: Live at Montreux, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, (Warner Bros., 1991)
- Beyond Another Wall: Live in China, George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, (TCB, 1992)
- Blues and the Abstract Truth, Suzanne Pittson, (Vineland, 1992)
- Blues Mission, Pee Wee Ellis, (Gramavision, 1992)
- Single Petal of a Rose, John Hicks (Mapleshade, 1992)
- Why I Like Coffee, Bob Nell, (New World, 1992)
- Mood Swing, Manhattan New Music Project, (Soul Note, 1992)
- Rush Hour, Joe Lovano, (Blue Note, 1994)