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 Friday, 01 August 2014
Boxcar Debut! Jeremy Walker’s New Project at the Dakota, December 13th PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Saturday, 10 December 2011

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Jeremy Walker©Andrea Canter
 

“Playing at the Dakota on our first tour is a perfect start. It’s my hometown club and has been a huge part of my jazz life.” —Jeremy Walker  

At the time that he moved to New York in 2009, saxophonist-turned-pianist/composer Jeremy Walker was already an experienced bandleader and impresario, having founded the short-lived Brilliant Corners club and the acclaimed Jazz Is Now organization (for which he led Nownet), and serving as the first curator of the Dakota Late Night series. His time in New York has been fruitful, and while Walker has turned the artistic reins of Jazz Is Now over to Bryan Nichols, he continues to forge new musical concepts and partnerships. His latest, Boxcar, is on its debut tour, coming “home” to the Dakota on December 13th.  With co-leader Anthony Cox, drummer JT Bates, and one of the hottest hornmen in New York, saxophonist Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Boxcar performs “In the spirit of the old territory bands… with original jazz music that combines the panache of New Orleans, and the drive of New York, with the free-spirited underground jazz of Minneapolis.”

Minneapolis native Jeremy Walker (aka “Boot”) started playing the saxophone at age ten, turning to jazz at age 14. After founding Jazz Is Now! and Brilliant Corners in 2003, he was named Best Local Impresario by City Pages.  When nerve and joint problems interfered with the saxophone, Walker immersed himself in the piano, studying with David Berkman and Frank Kimbrough via a Jerome Foundation Grant, and turning more deeply to composing. With Duke Ellington as his key influence since his teens, Walker also notes that he admires Andrew Hill and Thelonious Monk. Improvising and composing are the yin and yang; “they need each other desperately,” notes Walker. In addition to Jazz Is Now, Walker also founded the Small City Trio, which released its debut recording, The Pumpkins Reunion, in 2010. He was recruited to write a six-part blog for Walker Art Center and MnArtists.org, entitled “Jazz Is a Bastard,” and has been a regular contributor to MnArtists.org. He has also been commissioned by Jackson State University (AL) and has written over fifty compositions for Small City Trio, the NOWnet, and the Bootet.  

And now Boxcar. “This group represents sort of a dream band for me,” says Jeremy. “All the guys are peers, mentors, and friends and everyone brings a disparate but complimentary take on the music. Right away, when Anthony and I talked about forming Boxcar, we could hear how great it would sound.” The original notion of Boxcar was to emphasize original music, ensemble sound, and “a potentially conflicting blend of different musical personalities.”  

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Wessell Anderson
One of the key personalities is Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson, probably best known for his long association with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. A New York native who grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, Anderson was encouraged to take up jazz as a youngster by his father, a drummer. After playing in local clubs from his early teens and participating in Jazzmobile workshops, he met Branford Marsalis who encouraged him to study with the great Alvin Batiste at Southern University. It wasn’t long before Anderson was touring with Wynton’s Septet, a collaboration he enjoyed through the mid 90s; he continued to work with Marsalis in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. His recordings as leader dated back to his 1994 debut with Eric Reed and Ben Wolfe, and since he has released four more albums, including his 2011 Warmdaddy Play Cannonball, featured in the July 2011 issue of DownBeat.

"People love Wess . . . they can feel the love . . . His personality comes through his playing . . . that's why we call him Warmdaddy," said Wynton Marsalis. The LA Times noted that Anderson “may be the most virtuosic bebop alto saxophonist since Cannonball Adderley." Anderson has a significant history with Jeremy Walker and Jazz Is Now!, performing at the JIN’s 2004 launch with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, in the JIN’s 2005 show at the Illusion Theater, and in the Nownet’s finale at the Loring Theater in spring 2011. 

Growing up in suburban Minneapolis, Anthony Cox was not particularly interested in jazz as a teenage guitarist, preferring Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles to John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. But a Mingus concert and Return to Forever’s Stanley Clarke led him to switch to the bass. Anthony studied bass in college at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, playing in both jazz and classical ensembles. After graduation, he headed to New York, building a reputation that took him on tour with Stan Getz. In the early 90s, he returned to the Twin Cities but his career has hardly been limited by his residence. Over the years, Cox has worked and/or recorded with Bobby Previte, Dewey Redman, Geri Allen, Arthur Blythe, Sam Rivers, Joe Lovano and Uri Caine, playing upright acoustic, electric and Spanish acoustic bass. Anthony has been part of the Jazz Is Now! ensembles since the beginning. He continues to play extensively around the Twin Cities, with such luminaries as Dave King, Bryan Nichols, Chris Lomheim, Phil Hey, Debbie Duncan and more. Noted All About Jazz, “his technique is absolutely awesome and his solos are full of wit and wisdom."  

J.T. Bates is one of the busiest drummers in the Twin Cities, on and off the bandstand. He was a member of Motion Poets, has played and recorded with Doug Little, has performed on Prairie Home Companion, and recently has worked with a variety of Latin, electronic, and experimental ensembles, the Bryan Nichols Trio, Kelly Rossum Quartet, James Buckley Trio, Low Blow, Fat Kid Wednesdays, the Zacc Harris Quartet and more. 

Boxcar performs at the Dakota at 7 pm on December 13; 1010 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis; www.dakotacookscom. Boxcar’s inaugural tour includes dates in Kansas (The Blue Room, 12/10) and Denver (Dazzle, 12/15-16), as well as gigs on the East Coast and in New York City, set for spring 2012. For dates and more, visit http://boot-music.com  
 
 



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