Terry Waldo

Terry Waldo, born November 26, 1944 in Ironton (Ohio), is an American pianist, composer and historian of early jazz and blues. He is most well-known for his contributions to ragtime, as well as his role in reviving the interest in this form in the 1970s. Wynton Marsalis, in his introduction to Waldo’s book, said that Waldo teaches Ragtime. He also talks about Ragtime. He plays Ragtime. He embodies Ragtime. And he keeps Ragtime alive. This is Ragtime was published in 1976. It grew from the 1974 series Waldo produced for NPR. Waldo is also a theatre music director, producer and vocalist. He is also a teacher. His humor and wit in performances are well-known. He has been called “a monologist of the dry, Middle Western tradition”. Eubie Blake describes Waldo’s first impressions of him as “I died laughing…that is one of the most difficult things to do–make others laugh.” Terry’s talent and musicianship remind me of Fats Waller. When he was five years old, the Waldo family moved from California to Columbus, Ohio. John Baker, his neighbor, had a large collection including jazz recordings, piano rolls, as well as jazz films. The American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri acquired Baker’s film collection. It is one of the largest in the world. Waldo was a child who listened to Dixieland and Spike Jones records. He later became a record collector. He began learning classical piano at the age of eight. He continued to take formal lessons for three more years, and in no time moved from classical piano to jazz and ragtime. He learned to play the trumpet, tuba and string bass, cello, banjo, banjo, and organ. He had formed his first band, The Fungus Five plus Two (“our music grows upon you”) by 1961. This was after Waldo graduated high school. Waldo first met Eubie Blake in 1969 at the St. Louis Ragtime Festival. Blake was his mentor and a lifelong friend. Blake taught Waldo piano from 1971 to 1983. Blake says that he did not teach Terry how to play the piano. However, he qualifies their arrangement by saying: “Now, I’m going to not say I taught Terry to play the piano, because Terry already knew his stuff when he met me…He has been not only an outstanding musician but also an exceptional entertainer. Waldo studied piano with Dick Wellstood and Jaki Byard as well as Peter Howard. Waldo started playing in Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Rhythm Kings, Dayton, Ohio, in 1963. Mayl’s band was among a select few that remained in the country after the 1940s traditional jazz revival. In 1964, Waldo, then twenty-years-old, made his debut in New Orleans playing with notables such as Johnny Wiggs and Kid Valentine. One of his venues was the Red Garter, which is home to several banjo bands. He played at Earthquake Mcgoon’s in San Francisco with West Coast jazz revivalist musicians, and also at Red Garter in San Francisco in 1965 and 1966. Waldo was a member of Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band, studied with Wally Rose and Pops Foster, and lived in Mcgoon’s above Mcgoon’s. Waldo returned to Ohio in 1969 and formed the Gutbucket Syncopators. The traditional jazz group featured Frank Powers, Roy Tate and Jim Snyder. The Syncopators performed at clubs and festivals, and recorded a lot of music. The band featured many notable guests such as Ruth Brisbane, Edith Wilson, George Rock (of Spike Jones fame), and Ruth Brisbane. Waldo’s 26-part NPR series This is Ragtime, which aired in 1974, helped to fuel the 1970s ragtime revival. This series was first published in 1976 and then republished in 1991, 2009 and 2010. The book with the same title was also produced. The introduction was written by Eubie Blake. People tried to convince him that he was not capable of playing the ‘old stuff’ back then. Waldo met Susan LaMarche in 1975. She would become his twelve-year performing partner. Waldo says that Susan LaMarche is still his best friend. They performed together at The 92nd Street, The Jazz Church in NYC and Jacob’s Pillow. In the late 1980s Waldo moved to New York City. He began playing jazz at clubs like The Cookery and Hanratty’s. Waldo supported the Ohio music scene and formed Waldo’s Ragtime Orchestra. The group was largely composed of Columbus Jazz Arts Group members and recorded two albums for Stomp Off Records. These albums were later reissued on classical record labels Sine Qua Non and Musical Heritage Society. The Gotham City Jazz Band was founded in 1984. The band is still active today, recording several albums and performing regularly at festivals, concerts, venues, and venues throughout New York City. Arnie Kinsella, Howard Alden and Dan Barrett are just a few of many outstanding jazz and ragtime musicians that have been part the group’s many versions over the years. The band has had many notable guests, including Odetta, Leon Redbone and Maurice Hines. Waldo has produced and orchestrated more than 40 albums on many labels, including Sony BMG and Blackbird, GHB and Stomp Off, Musical Heritage Society and Sine Qua Non. Metronome and Delmark are also among them. Film and television work includes performances and compositions on The Tonight Show, Storyville: The Naked Dance and Ken Burns’s PBS documentary UnforgivableBlackness: The Rise u0026 Fall of Jack Johnson. Waldo has composed music for many of his own albums, as well as those of Leon Redbone. His TV work includes a year as a music director, talent, and producer at Warner Qube’s two-way television station in 1978. His credits in New York City theatre include Mr. Jelly Lord (directed and produced by Vernel Baneris), Ambassador Satch (directed and produced by Andre DeShields), Warren G (directed and directed by Tom O’Horgan), and Shake That Thing! Waldo’s 1927 Revue. Waldo began his teaching career in Ohio at Denison University in 1970s with courses in jazz history and film. He continues that tradition today with ragtime courses for Swing University for Jazz in Lincoln Center in 2009 and a course on early jazz piano styles for the 2010 class. Waldo’s expertise in composing, writing, directing and performing has been demonstrated across many media and performing arts. Through Waldo/Lee Music Productions, Inc., he continues to produce and record his own shows and recordings. Waldo/Lee also assisted with the production of Waldo’s latest revision of Waldo’s book, This Is Ragtime for Jazz at Lincoln Center Library Editions. They also reissued the NPR radio series of the same name. Waldo is currently being developed by the company. He continues to perform live in a variety of venues, including The Supreme Court and The Smithsonian Institution. His playing is featured in Red Dead Redemption 2, the 2018 Rockstar videogame.

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