Album: Syncopated Classic

Artist: Greg Ruby & the Rhythm Runners

Label: 4 Culture

Release Date: December 01, 2017

The Upshot: A labor of love, and a must-own for any serious fan of the early (circa 1920s) jazz era, notably Seattle’s Frank D. Waldron.


Hot vinyl alert: If you’ve got a hankerin’ for some authentic, vintage, circa-Twenties jazz, lovingly presented on a delightfully-spinning 33rpm (in lieu of 78rpm—gotta nod to contemporary turntable realities) wax platter, then look no further than Syncopated Classic. Greg Ruby, a Seattle-based composer, guitar/banjo savant, and musicologist, has assembled an ensemble of like-minded obsessives, er, enthusiasts, to recreate hometown early jazz legend Frank D. Waldron’s crowning achievements, namely 1918’s “The Kaiser’s Got the Blues” (look up that WWI reference, millennials…) and the complete Syncopated Classic from 1924. Familiar with those? Yeah, me neither—so consider this elaborately presented package a gift from the music gods, an instructional designed to give you, and the rest of us, a rare insight into one of jazz’s proverbial “forgotten musical giants” (as Ruby notes), and also in hopes of helping “ensure that Waldron’s music and legacy remain an integral part of Seattle’s rich musical history.”

San Francisco-born Waldron was clearly enamored of New Orleans jazz, and here Ruby and his six fellow enthusiasts ably and enthusiastically recreate the composer’s vision (love that trombone, Mr. Charlie Haloran!). One would need to be a specialist/archivist to properly annotate this 11-song LP, but suffice to say, put it on in the middle of a house party, and watch the smiles broaden, the drinks flow more liberally, and the inhibitions dissipate. Included is a folder crammed with the actual sheet music to Waldron’s compositions along with a 64-page book (pictured, above) boasting more sheet music and a detailed Waldron biography along with rare photos. To call this a labor of love would be an understatement.

DOWNLOAD: The entire thing—the flow, both musically and conceptually, is seamless.

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