JIM WALLER BIG BAND – “BUCKET LIST” – Independent Label
Jim Waller, arranger/composer/tenor & soprano saxophones/Hammond XK-5 organ; Chris Villanueva & Andy Langham, piano; Jason Valdez, electric guitar; Jim Kalson, electric bass; Georgie Padilla, congas/percussion; Will Kennedy, drums; Joe Caploe, timpani; Bill King, lead alto saxophone/flute; Adam Carrillo & Matthew Maldonado, tenor saxophone; Brian Christensen, alto saxophone/flute; Dr. Joey Colarusso, baritone saxophone; Libby Barnette, French horn; Karlos Elizondo, lead trumpet; Dr. Adrian Ruiz, Al Gomez, Lee Sparky Thomason & Curtis Calderon, trumpets; Jaime Parker, lead trombone; Gilbert Garza & Mark Hill, trombones; Matthew Erickson & Dr. Martin McCain, bass trombones; STRING SECTION: Anastasia Parker, concertmaster; Dr. Stephanie Westney & Eric Siu, Violins; Yang Guo & David Wang, viola; Ken Freudigman, cello; Jacqueline Sotelo, vocals.
Some might consider Jim Waller an over-achiever. He is a competent player of alto & soprano saxophones, the trombone, organ, piano and is a well-respected arranger and composer. No wonder that he found himself eager to put together a big band to interpret his original compositions and play his arrangements. The “Bucket List” album presents a number of familiar standard songs with five of Waller’s original songs included. You can say this 21-piece Jim Waller Big Band is a big accomplishment from his personal bucket list.
Waller’s first original opens this album and is titled, “Samba for Suzell.” It dances onto the scene and features a spirited tenor saxophone solo by composer/bandleader, Jim Waller; a strong piano improvisation by Chris Villanueva and a spunky drum solo featuring Will Kennedy, (a former member of the Yellow Jackets). The familiar showstopping song penned by Peggy Lee and William Schluger, “I Love Being Here With You,” is well-sung by Jacqueline Sotelo, who adds her scat vocalise to the mix. This entire album offers a delightful mix of Latin, ‘swing,’ blues, waltzes and ballads. All compositions are arranged beautifully and played well.
Jim Waller was born in Santa Barbara, California and attended Fresno State College. He formed a successful surf group who called themselves The Deltas. They recorded two albums in the 60s. In the 70s he changed directions, becoming an important member of the groundbreaking jazz/rock octet called “Los Blues.” They were a popular working group in Las Vegas from 1967 to 1973. Waller arranged their music and produced an album for the United Artists Record label. In 1977, he moved to San Antonio, Texas where he joined a group called “Road Apple.” He also became a sideman for a number of legendary performers like Etta James, Marvin Gay, Bill Watrous, Willie Nelson, Richie Cole, Paul
Gonsalves and Pete Fountain. He’s currently a well-appreciated educator and owns a recording studio where he stays busy producing both music and jingles. With the release of this album, he can cross another accomplishment off of his “Bucket List” and add to his biography, ‘success as a big bandleader.’