Jack Walrath

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Jack Walrath
Jack Image1.jpg
Background information
Born (1946-05-05) May 5, 1946 (age 74)
Stuart, Florida, U.S.
LabelsStash, SteepleChase, Red, Muse, Blue Note, Mapleshade, Evidence

Jack Arthur Walrath (born May 5, 1946) is an American post-bop jazz trumpeter and musical arranger known for his work with Ray Charles, Gary Peacock, Charles Mingus, and Glenn Ferris, among others.[1]


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".[2]

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 Berklee College of Music in 1968 with a composition diploma.[citation needed]

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.[3] He worked with Ray Charles for one tour of the U.S. In 1970 Walrath relocated to New York City. For a year and a half he was a columnist of the International Musician and Recording World, which had its US department there. He also wrote liner notes and articles for DownBeat.

Walrath spent the next several years working with mainstream and Latin jazz bands.[3] 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.[citation needed]

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).[2] 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.[citation needed]

In 1998 the Japanese sublabel Paddle Wheel of King Records released the album Godzilla Jazz, recorded at Westrax Recording Studios. The compositions are by Akira Ifukube, all arrangements and the trumpet soloist part are by Jack Walrath., Lindsey Horner played bass and bass clarinet, Cecil Brooks III contributed drums.[4]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


As leader or co-leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ Carr, Ian; Digby Fairweather; Brian Priestley (1995). Jazz: The Rough Guide. The Rough Guides. p. 669. ISBN 1-85828-137-7.
  2. ^ a b Todd S. Jenkins, I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger Press, 2006), ISBN 0-275-98102-9
  3. ^ a b Wynn, Ron. "Jack Walrath: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  4. ^ "Jack Walrath – Godzilla Jazz". discogs.com. Retrieved 2020-10-03.

External links[edit]