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Jack Walrath

Jack Walrath

On one of his countless irreverent recordings, noted auteur and irascible iconoclast Frank Zappa once posed the question, “Does humor belong in music?” On Invasion of the Booty Shakers (Savant), the latest with his band of musical upstarts collectively known as Masters of Suspense, trumpeter Jack Walrath asks the question, “Does insolence belong in music?” And with cuts like “Rats and Moles,” “Da Thrill of Vasectomy, Da Agony of Da Feet” and “I Want to Be Your Pig,” his answer would seem to be a resounding yes.

Blending metalesque skronking from guitarist Bill Bickford (a charter member of Defunkt), wild vocal abandon from audacious scatmaster Miles Griffith, slamming yet intricate grooves from drummer Cecil Brooks III and bassist Hill Green and bristling, daring trumpet work from Walrath, the Masters of Suspense run the stylistic gamut from punk-funk to bebop, from roadhouse blues to reggae to samba, all done with a touch of merry prankster glee. Several of Walrath’s tunes on the new recording have an ironic sense of juxtaposition, a surprising Jekyll-Hyde dichotomy that defies standard songwriting forms. It’s a characteristic he may have inherited from a former employer and significant mentor, Charles Mingus.

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