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SYNCOPATED CLASSIC – The lost work of a 1920s jazz composer

Created by Greg Ruby

SYNCOPATED CLASSIC – The lost work of a 1920s jazz composer
441280d96aad9d16aca094e76824b76a original
291 backers pledged $12,203.00 on Kickstarter

In 1924, Seattle jazz musician Frank D. Waldron wrote 9 original compositions. These songs have now been recorded for the first time.

Raised in Kickstarter
$12,203.00 / 291 backers
Raised in BackerKit
$234.00 / 280 backers
Estimated Shipping Date: June 2017
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Syncopated Classic - CD
Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners perform 11 compositions by Seattle jazz musician, Frank D. Waldr... more »
$15.00
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Syncopated Classic - vinyl album (standard black vinyl)
"Greg Ruby has captured the spirit of early jazz by retrieving and rearranging the long lost comp... more »
$20.00
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Syncopated Classic - vinyl album (limited edition translucent clear vinyl)
"Greg Ruby has captured the spirit of early jazz by retrieving and rearranging the long lost comp... more »
$35.00
Washington 20hall 20stomp 20  20cover legacy square thumb
Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners - Washington Hall Stomp CD (2015)
2015 CD release by Greg Ruby & the Rhythm. Features originals compositions by Greg Ruby with ... more »
$15.00
Red 20record legacy square thumb
Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners - 45 RPM red vinyl (2012)
RED VINYL - 2 song - 45rpm record by Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners. In April of 2012, Greg... more »
$8.00
Look 20both 20ways 20cover legacy square thumb
Greg Ruby Quartet - Look Both Ways CD (2010)
2011 CD celebrates guitarist Django Reinhardt with 12 original compositions by Greg Ruby. "Ru... more »
$15.00
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Digital Download of Album
Digital Download of album as both MP3 & FLAC, original cover design by Mike McDevitt and digi... more »
$10.00

Learn About Our Project:

 

In 1924, Frank D. Waldron, Seattle jazz musician, composer and mentor to jazz greats Quincy Jones and Buddy Catlett, self-published nine original compositions under the guise of a saxophone tutorial book called “Frank D. Waldron’s Syncopated Classic.” Virtually lost to time, these rare, never-before recorded compositions have been unearthed and given new life by renowned, modern-day, Prohibition-Era jazz all-stars Greg Ruby and The Rhythm Runners. Your support will not only ensure that these historical compositions will now be released for the first time (on vinyl and CD), it will help preserve a forgotten piece of Seattle's rich musical history and, most importantly, Waldron's contributions to the golden age of jazz.

Campaign Goal:

The campaign goal of $10,000 will fund the design and production costs of making vinyl records and CDs. Additionally, the campaign will provide the necessary resources to properly promote the record to radio and print. In exchange for your support, you will be the first to hear and receive copies of the record as the official release to stores, on-line retailers and streaming services will not be until September of 2017.

Thank you for your support!

Record label design by Mike McDevitt - Side A (2017)
Record label design by Mike McDevitt - Side A (2017)

"Greg Ruby has captured the spirit of early jazz by retrieving and rearranging the long lost compositions of legendary Seattle wind instrument “professor” Frank Waldron, mentor to Quincy Jones, Buddy Catlett and others. These songs are an absolute delight, a window into a joyful, rambunctious jazz past that is too often overlooked." (Paul de Barros, The Seattle Times, Down Beat)

Frank D. Waldron (1890-1955) never became as famous as his star students Quincy Jones or Buddy Catlett but Waldron’s presence reaches back to the earliest days of jazz in Seattle. In 1907, he set up shop at 1242 Jackson Street near the epicenter of Seattle’s burgeoning jazz district. There, he established the Waldron School of Saxophone and Trumpet. Performing throughout the Northwest in numerous ensembles by 1915, Waldron joined the Wang Doodle Orchestra. With an ear towards composition, he self-published his first song in 1918 adding to the canon of WWI patriotic songs with a lively solo piano rag called "The Kaiser’s Got the Blues (Since Uncle Sam Stepped In)." Renowned for his impeccable technique, exquisite tone and immaculate attire, Waldron worked during Prohibition in the after-hours speakeasies and underground clubs. By the 1940s, Waldron turned full time to teaching. His students included Quincy Jones, Buddy Catlett, Jabo Ward and Barney Hilliard.

“Then we finally got a trumpet teacher named Frank Waldron. He was an African American with a bald head, and he used to wear striped pants, like the guys in the English Parliament. He looked like he stepped out of the Harlem Renaissance. He had a little flask of gin, and every night he'd take a sip three or four times and he said, Let me hear you play something. He was from a legit school of trumpet players." (Quincy Jones interview, Academy of Achievement)

Wang Doodle Orchestra (1915) - Waldron pictured on trumpet
Wang Doodle Orchestra (1915) - Waldron pictured on trumpet

 

While Seattle’s jazz scene of the 1920s was geographically remote, it was not removed. As local musicians absorbed the new sounds of jazz bands touring the West Coast on vaudeville circuits, they formed groups of their own. Jelly Roll Morton even resided in Seattle years before he became the self-proclaimed "inventor of jazz." With Prohibition in full swing, the city was home to numerous after-hours speakeasies and underground clubs that created a lucrative and dependable living for many musicians. Far from the cities that became associated with music’s evolution, Seattle developed a vibrant jazz scene of its own. Ignored by the press and recording industries of the East, much of Seattle’s music and musicians went unnoticed. Local musicians such as Frank D. Waldron, who preferred to remain close to home, were never afforded the opportunity to place their music on the indelible medium of a record. Instead, Waldron archived his compositions by self publishing “Frank D. Waldron’s Syncopated Classic.” Inside the pages of this obscure book are nine compositions that reveal the musical brilliance of one of Seattle’s most important early jazz musicians. Now for the first time in generations, you will be able to hear the music Waldron wrote back in the roaring 20s.

This project began in 2014 when I was composing the music for the first Rhythm Runners CD, Washington Hall Stomp. As I was researching about Seattle musicians from the 1920s, I read about Waldron and “Syncopated Classic” in the Seattle jazz history book “Jackson Street After Hours” by Paul de Barros. Curious about Waldron as a composer, I sought to find "Syncopated Classic." Eventually I came across a single, tattered photocopy and much to my delight the compositions were simply remarkable. Through research at the Library of Congress, I also found two more of Waldron’s works: a World War I solo piano rag titled “The Kaiser’s Got the Blues (Since Uncle Sam Stepped In)” and a beautiful waltz titled “Valse Queen Ann.”

THE BAND

In March of 2016, I went into the recording studio with the Rhythm Runners and we recorded all 11 of Waldron’s known compositions. Drawing on the the band's individual and collective talents, the recording sounds absolutely amazing.

The Rhythm Runners’ Prohibition Era jazz is such infectious fun it could almost make you wish the 21st Amendment had never been repealed. (Dick Stein, Jazz DJ, KNKX 88.5 FM Seattle, Tacoma)

With guest artist Mike Marshall on mandolin on two tracks:

To ensure, the highest quality audio, the project was engineered and mixed by Adam Burd at AVAST! Studios, mastered by Ed Brooks at Resonant Mastering. The master lacquer (for vinyl) was created by Levi Seitz at Black Belt Mastering. Mike McDevitt will be creating original cover art and Seattle jazz historian Paul de Barros will be writing the liner notes. The project is in queue at Cascade Record Press awaiting final approval. 

Your support will finance the final phase of this project. Without the hard work of this amazing team and the initial financial support from 4Culture to cover studio and musician fees, it could not have gotten this far. Now, I need your help to release this record!!

The resources raised by this campaign will specifically fund the following:

  • $3,500: Vinyl Record & Jacket Manufacturing
  • $2,000: CD Manufacturing
  • $1,200: Design & Liner Notes
  • $3,300: Radio & Print Promo

While these numbers are realistic, exceeding this amount will allow for a more robust promotional campaign and deliver Waldron's music to an even wider audience.

Thank you for your support!

Record label design by Mike McDevitt - Side B (2017)
Record label design by Mike McDevitt - Side B (2017)

Photos of Frank D. Waldron used with permission from the Black Heritage Society of Washington State.

Photos of Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners by Amber French Photography.

Thank you for your pledge. Here are more details about the pledge rewards.

The CD and Record

The vinyl records will be printed at the Pacific Northwest's only vinyl production facility, Cascade Record Press. The record has 11 tracks and a one page insert. The CDs will be pressed by Disc Makers and come with an eight-page booklet.

Image Sample of Clear Vinyl

Image Sample of Clear Vinyl from Cascade Record Plant
Image Sample of Clear Vinyl from Cascade Record Plant

Letterpress Poster

The letterpress poster is a limited-edition letterpress poster made at Day Moon Press in my neighborhood of Beacon Hill in Seattle, Washington. I had the poster designed and printed for the Rhythm Runners' 2016 tour during which we first performed all of Waldron's music and recorded this record. Day Moon printed one hundred on finer quality paper and the results were stunning. We will sign the poster for you.

Rhythm Runners letterpress poster
Rhythm Runners letterpress poster

They even let me print a few...

Letterpress Stamper

The letterpress stamper was created from the Rhythm Runners' press photo and cast in aluminum to be used for the poster. There is only one.

Letterpress Aluminum Stamper 4.5 x 6.5
Letterpress Aluminum Stamper 4.5 x 6.5

Test Pressings

Five test pressings made by Cascade Record Press. They were each listened to once to approve the record. This is your chance to own one.

Test Pressings from Cascade Record Press
Test Pressings from Cascade Record Press

Acetate Reference Disc

Levi Seitz of Blackbelt Mastering cut an acetate reference disc. I was there when it was made. Serious record collectors, this is your chance. About acetate reference discs.

Acetate Reference Disc
Acetate Reference Disc

Cutting the reference disc...

Composition

I will compose an original composition and video the Rhythm Runners playing it. Before beginning the composition, I will be in touch about the character of the piece. I will include you on structural decisions and get your input about creative directions.

Photos of Frank D. Waldron used with permission from the Black Heritage Society of Washington State.

Photos of Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners by Amber French Photography.