MUSIC | Jeremy Walker of the Small City Trio: “There is always something to improve on and discover”


Small City Trio return to Minneapolis promoting their album Pumpkins’ Reunion with a February 25th show at famed jazz club the Dakota. The band is led by composer-pianist-vocalist Jeremy Walker, with Jeff Brueske on bass and vocals and Tim Zhorne on drums. They played to a packed house for the Pumpkins’ Reunion release event and are back with originals and a number or two by the legendary likes of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayorn, and Sam Rivers.

The group consistently get favorable reviews at publications like MinnPost and JazzPolice, whose Andrea Canter wrote, “Walker’s compositions strongly, and effectively, highlight his imagination, which seems as akin to Monk as to Ellington, with wide spaces that readily open to the ideas of his partners.” They cut the ablum at Fuzzy Slippers Studios in St. Paul in November over the course of a couple weeks.

Jeremy Walker, in not the chattiest of interviews, responded to a handful of questions asked by e-mail.

Who are your strongest musical influences?
Jaki Byard and Duke Ellington. They were always themselves, they were playful and willing to be simple and direct.

What inspires your lyrics?
Everyday life and feelings. I try to write about what I am thinking. I am not out to make grand statements.

What moved you to make music your profession?
I liked the challenge and the hours. And I like spending long hours alone practicing and writing. I like musicians, hanging out. Growing up, I became aware of it as an alternative way to live and was drawn to it.

It’s not easy finding the right musicians to work with. How’d you and the rest of the trio get together?
We met through my brother who went to college with Tim and Jeff, and we just kept playing and working. We have all played and play with other people, but we come back to the trio. Our history goes back something like 20 years. It is impossible to replace that history and it contributes to the freedom we can play with.

Any plans to do a live album?
No definite plans, but we will make more records, and we essentially just play and record it. It isn’t that much different than a live album.

What’s next?
Same as always. More gigs, more new material, more practicing. It is the ongoing thing. None of us are looking for a career change, so there is always something to improve on and discover.