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In 1924, Seattle jazz musician Frank D. Waldron wrote 9 original compositions. These songs have now been recorded for the first time.
In 1924, Seattle jazz musician Frank D. Waldron wrote 9 original compositions. These songs have now been recorded for the first time.
In 1924, Seattle jazz musician Frank D. Waldron wrote 9 original compositions. These songs have now been recorded for the first time.
291 backers pledged $12,203 to help bring this project to life.

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

$12,203

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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...

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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...

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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.

Risks and challenges

There is very little risk in supporting this project. The studio recording is complete, mixed, mastered and in queue at Cascade (vinyl) Record Press. The musicians, studios and engineers have all been paid. I am only seeking support for the final phase of this project—to place these recordings on vinyl, CD and digital and to get Waldron's music into the ears and hearts of as many people as possible. Thank you.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Single Song

    Thank you for your support! You will receive a digital copy of the song "Climb Them Walls" as a thank you.

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    Digital Download of the Album

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    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Digital Download of the Album

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    CD + Digital Download

    You will receive the CD and digital download of the album.

    The CD includes original cover design by Mike McDevitt and an eight-page booklet with photos and liner notes by Seattle jazz historian Paul de Barros.

    Includes:
    • CD
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    2 CDs + Digital Download

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    • CD
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Vinyl Record + Digital Download

    Vinyl record printed at Portland's Cascade Record Press.

    The record includes original album jacket design by Mike McDevitt and an insert with photos and liner notes by Seattle jazz historian Paul de Barros.

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    • Vinyl Record
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Limited Edition Clear Vinyl + Download

    Limited Edition Clear Translucent Vinyl printed at Portland's Cascade Record Press; only 100 will be printed.

    The record includes original album jacket design by Mike McDevitt and an insert with photos and liner notes by Seattle jazz historian Paul de Barros.

    Includes:
    • Vinyl Record - Limited Edition Clear Translucent Vinyl
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Vinyl + CD + Digital Download

    Vinyl printed at Portland's Cascade Record Press + the CD + the digital download.

    The CD & record includes original album design by Mike McDevitt and inserts with photos and liner notes by Seattle jazz historian Paul de Barros.

    Includes:
    • Vinyl Record
    • CD
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    2 Records + Download

    Get both the Limited Edition Translucent Vinyl & the black vinyl.

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    • Vinyl Record - Limited Edition Clear Translucent Vinyl
    • Vinyl Record
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Autographed Collection

    The Rhythm Runners will sign the complete collection along with a limited edition letterpress poster.

    Includes:
    • Vinyl record - Autographed (black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Autographed Collection - Clear Vinyl

    The Rhythm Runners will sign the complete collection (clear vinyl) along with a limited edition letterpress poster.

    Includes:
    • Vinyl Record - Limited Edition Clear Translucent - Autographed
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Patron of the Arts

    You will be thanked in the album liner note plus you will receive the complete autographed collection.

    Includes:
    • Thank-you credit in the liner notes (before April 20)
    • Vinyl Record - Autographed (colored or black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Patron of the Arts

    You will be thanked in the album liner note plus you will receive the complete autographed collection.

    Includes:
    • Autographed thank-you card
    • Vinyl Record - Autographed (colored or black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Rhythm Runners Letterpress Stamper

    Day moon press made an aluminum stamper for the letter press poster of the band. There is only one of these in existence. You will receive this & you will be thanked in the album liner notes (before April 20) plus you will receive the complete autographed collection.

    Includes:
    • Letterpress Stamper of the Rhythm Runners
    • Thank-you credit in the liner notes (before April 20)
    • Vinyl Record - Autographed (colored or black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Pretty Doll Music Box

    I will personally program the Frank D. Waldron composition "Pretty Doll" into a hand-cranked music box. You will also be thanked in the album liner notes and receive the complete autographed collection.

    Includes:
    • Pretty Doll Music Box
    • Vinyl Record - Autographed (colored or black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
    • Thank-you credit in the liner notes (before April 20)
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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Vinyl Test Pressing

    Only five test pressings were made by Cascade Record Press.

    One of them is yours, plus you will be thanked in the album liner notes (if pledged by April 20) and you will receive the complete autographed collection.

    Includes:
    • Vinyl Test Pressing
    • Vinyl Record - Autographed (colored or black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
    • Thank-you credit in the liner notes (before April 20)
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Acetate Reference Disc

    There is only one acetate reference disc. I watched it being made at Black Belt Mastering by Levi Seitz.

    It's yours, plus you will be thanked in the album liner notes (if pledged by April 20) and receive the complete autographed collection.

    Includes:
    • Acetate Reference Disc
    • Vinyl Record - Autographed (colored or black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
    • Thank-you credit in the liner notes (before April 20)
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Original Composition

    Greg Ruby will write an original composition, name it after you (or a special someone) and make a video of the Rhythm Runners performing it.

    You will also be thanked in the album liner notes (if pledged by April 20) and receive the complete autographed collection.

    Includes:
    • Original Composition by Greg Ruby & played by the Rhythm Runners
    • Thank-you credit in the liner notes (before April 20)
    • Vinyl Record - Autographed (colored or black vinyl)
    • CD - Autographed
    • Limited Edition Letterpress Rhythm Runners Poster - Autographed
    • Pre-release Digital Download of album, cover art & liner notes
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (28 days)