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4 Responses to “JUNIOR WALKER / “Shotgun””

sue ross Says:
April 22nd, 2007 at 9:15 am

Almost 30 years ago, when I was back in college, I took a class from the then poet, playwright and free-jazz drummer Stanley Crouch called Contemporary Black Arts. The Crouch of the late sixties was a fellow traveler in the West Coast Black Arts Movement along with Jayne Cortez, Quincy Troupe, Black Arthur Blythe & the Watts Poets. I have to credit Stanley for introducing impressionable young 16-20 year olds to listening to our fathers’ music – jazz – in a whole new way. Through the lenses of Baraka & Cortez, we listened to the full spectrum of black music and especially America’s only original classical music – jazz from King Oliver & Pops to Coltrane, Coleman and beyond. When we talked about the historical great saxophonists, Crouch maintained that the greatest contemporary sax men were Pharoah Sanders and Junior Walker! And we listened to the cross-genre similarities in their approach to the instrument. junior Walker remains one of my favorites – one who reached back through funk to field hollas to Africa and back again, all within the context of Motown’s 3-4 minute records! The ultimate party jam. We often wondered what would have happened if Pharoah and Junior ever got together for a late night jam session!

          the arkansas connection         

could it be? both walker and sanders are from arkansas!

on a more serious note: i have heard what pharoad sounds like playing pop but i have not heard  walker playing jazz, particularly coltrane-influenced jazz. sanders even recorded a marvin gaye tune (it’s much more of a curiosity than a revelation).

my deeper point is don’t skip the saxophonist who preceded both sanders and walker. those bar walkers. honkers & hollerers. and please don’t sleep on illinois jacquet, he of the high note wail.

on a more divine note: you ever hear willis gator tail jackson?

and now to the meta-connections: at some point, people are going to realize and publicly recognize the immense influence that black music has had worldwide, not just in terms of musical culture but also in terms of artistic expression and in terms of providing insight into the perrenial questions confronting all of us: who am i? what is the world? is there a god (and if there is, who or what is god)?

for the answers—listen!


Larry Brown Says:
June 23rd, 2010 at 8:53 am

I’m Larry Brown & I’m Proud & Blessed to be able to say I knew Jr Walker personally. At this writing (6/23/10), I’m 58 yrs old. I will be 59 on 6/28/10. Jr was born on 6/14/31. I met him when I was about 16 yrs old if my memory serves me right.

1st saw him live, playing at the Cheetah Club in New York City and the next night he was playing at a Newark, N.J. nightclub, where I convinced the owner of the club to let me meet him.

I had just bought my Selmer Mark VI Tenor Sax & barely knew a couple of scales. When I met Jr backstage, he was so nice to me. I told him I was his biggest fan and he chuckled & smiled. I told him I had a Selmer Mark VI Tenor Sax also. He asked if I lived close by. I responded Yes. He said go home & get your horn & come back show me what you know.

I told him I was just learning to play & trying to learn my scales. He said, Man, go get that horn. I ran home, got my sax, came back & he watched me put it together. With him watching, I honked out the C scale somewhat brokenly. He just smiled, he didn’t laugh at me. He adjusted my fingers on the keys, instructed me on how to correctly hold the sax & how to breath properly & how to hold the mouthpiece between my lips.

I did the scales a few more times. He then showed me how to finger a few of the notes to “Cleo’s Mood”. I was totally blown away. Here I was, getting a sax lesson from the Great Master Sax Player, Jr “Shotgun” Walker. Jr was just an Amazing Person. Later in life, I became an insurance agent and Jr allowed me to insure the touring bus that he owned. After his Passing, his son Charles, gifted me his 1963 selmer Mark VI Tenor saxophone. I wish that I could blow that sax just like him. he is truly missed, but thank God, he left behind Great music for us all.

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