Frank D. Waldron wasn’t well-known outside the Seattle area, but the music he composed nearly a century ago is memorable. Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners have brought Waldron’s quirky, lively music to life on a new CD.
As Greg tells us in the video above, Waldron’s music is an unearthed treasure. And the band he assembled to play it is superb: Gordon Au, Dennis Lichtman, Charlie Halloran, Cassidy Holden, Julian MacDonough, and himself — with Mike Marshall as a guest on two tracks.
As you’ve gathered from Greg’s video, the project needs funding to reach completion: see here or visit Kickstarter here — where you can contribute the smallest amount and get a tangible reward. “Every dollar helps a lot.”
I am writing this post for reasons both selfish and altruistic. First and perhaps most plain: the music is rewarding as a series of surprises: truly idiomatic previously-unheard compositions. Of course there are Twenties and Thirties songs we haven’t heard before, but people deeply involved in this music know a wide range of compositions. Waldron’s music has what they would have called “pep,” and it’s not a matter of being a series of rapid one-steps. Rather, his compositions have memorable melodies, unpredictable turns, and multiple strains. This CD is the equivalent of finding a folio of new Morton or Parham songs.
And, as I’ve written here, since there are few working bands with fixed personnel these days, the repertoire has understandably narrowed to “something everybody knows,” and that can make for monochromatic performances. I dream that Greg’s work will stimulate a Waldron revival.
Second, music is more than its notation. Greg’s Rhythm Runners are a superb group — musicians who respect the compositions but let their individual personalities come out sweetly and convincingly. I was delighted by Greg’s first CD, WASHINGTON HALL STOMP, which I wrote about about here (and the personnel on that CD is the same as on SYNCOPATED CLASSIC). I’d like to see this band prosper.
New music, estimable young musicians, a delightful — and well-recorded / well-produced new CD. I encourage you to support this project. And Frank D. Waldron thanks you as well.
May your happiness increase!