Jeremy Walker is a composer and jazz pianist. His new release of original jazz art songs, Haunted Blue, features award-winning mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski. Walker’s suite 7 Psalms was most recently performed at Orchestra Hall and included the launch of American Public Media’s Radio Choir conducted by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu. Other works include the oratorio, The Rage of Achilles, for classical voice and jazz ensemble, and Alma Gentil—five pieces commissioned by Consortium Carissimi for chamber choir with early baroque and jazz ensembles. In 2014, Walker founded the Jazz at Orchestra Hall in the Target Atrium series where he currently serves as Artistic Director.
Walker started playing the saxophone at age ten in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN. At fourteen, he began pursuing jazz and has been intimately involved in this art form ever since—studying with Frank Kimbrough, David Berkman and Benny Golson among others. He studied Music Theory and Composition with Dr. Ona Pinsonneault, while getting his B.A. in Nonfiction Essay from Metropolitan State University. In 2003, he founded the all-ages jazz club Brilliant Corners which received national acclaim, including Downbeat magazine’s “One of the Top 100 Jazz Clubs Worldwide” with Walker being voted City Pages “Best Local Impresario.” The list of Artistic Advisors included Wynton Marsalis (Jazz at Lincoln Center) and Victor Goines (The Juilliard School, Northwestern University). He also founded Jazz is NOW, an educational arm of Brilliant Corners, with a kick-off concert by the Wynton Marsalis Quintet and a surprise guest appearance by Itzahk Perlman. Walker’s Jazz is NOW was the first organization to form an educational affiliation with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Education Department. To help the Dakota Jazz Club broaden their audience, Walker was brought in to found the Late Night series.
In 2005, an undiagnosed medical condition (later discovered to be Lyme Disease) forced Walker to stop playing the saxophone; he turned to piano and composition, earning accolades including a Jerome Foundation Travel/Study grant, and collaborations with TU Dance, and Zenon Dance Company. He served as Adjunct Faculty at Bethel University, teaching Jazz Improvisation and private piano—specializing in composition and improvisation. In his professional career, he has worked with Anthony Cox, Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Ted Nash, Matt Wilson, Vincent Gardner, Ron Miles, Carei Thomas and other notable musicians. Walker has been commissioned by Jackson State University, North Dakota Jazz, and Consortium Carissimi, and has written over seventy compositions for his bands: Boot Camp, Small City Trio, Boxcar, and The Bootet. His projects include writing the film score for Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story and authoring a series of articles on culture for Walker Art Center and mnartists.org.
In 2014, Minnesota Orchestra named Walker founding Artistic Director of the new Jazz at Orchestra Hall in the Target Atrium series with Minnpost listing it as one of “The 5 Biggest Trends” in the Twin Cities Arts Scene (“A step toward our own Jazz at Lincoln Center or SFJAZZ?”) and Pioneer Press stating “Orchestra Hall’s Target Atrium is the Twin Cities’ answer to New York’s Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in Lincoln Center.” Walker continues to serve as the Artistic Director of the regularly sold-out season of concerts.
In 2014, Walker released his ambitious album 7 Psalms. The recording was named in Star Tribune as one of the top 2014 albums in the Twin Cities Critics Tally with Walker listed as one of the “Jazz Heroes” in JazzPolice. In 2016, 7 Psalms was performed at Orchestra Hall. It launched American Public Media’s Radio Choir conducted by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu and received a standing ovation from an audience of over 1,700. Star Tribune wrote ”Compositions that attempt to fuse the worlds of jazz and classical aren’t often convincing, but here’s one that is.” (For more information, visit the “works” page and go to 7 Psalms.)
Writing the libretto and score for his jazz oratorio, The Rage of Achilles, Walker brought together opera singers with jazz instrumentation to tell the story of Homer’s Iliad. His genre-blending Baroque-meets-jazz commission for Consortium Carissimi, Alma Gentil, was performed in Italian and English using the poetry of G.B. Marino (1569-1625).
In October 2018, Walker released Haunted Blue with award-winning mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski, bassist Anthony Cox and tenor Tesfa Wondemagegnehu. Vaughn Ormeth from Classical Minnesota Public Radio wrote, “All the works revel in spectral zones between light and shadow, loss and connection, classical and jazz.” In a preview concert, Star Tribune called out “A different type of harmony — fractured, indeterminate, probing in the murk…” with the headline, “Hang the classifications, and bring on more jazz art songs.”