15 Minutes the Show had a ball with the singer, musician, producer and composer, Chris Walker, who arrived at the stunning Hilton Garden Inn in lovely downtown Burbank, this past weekend. Recently returning from sold-out shows in South Africa, he was in town for rehearsals leading up to his touring with the Dave Koz Christmas Tour. The tour features Chris performing some of his own music and in addition, selected songs celebrating the life of the singer and musician, Al Jarreau along with his touring companions Jonathan Butler, Melissa Manchester, and Michael Lington. The 22 day tour jumps off on November 29, beginning in Naples, Florida. A native of Houston, Texas, Chris wasn’t born a baby he was born a musician. The story of how he came to fame and recognition is worth noting. Chris kept his dream alive by performing locally with his family the Walker Brothers. He sent in his application to the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and told not to come. After graduation from the Performing and Visual Arts High School in Houston, Chris sold his bass and headed for New York with then just $40.00. He didn’t know it but his father had given him a guitar, that he would learn to play upside down because that’s the way he handed to him. Later, Chris came to find out that his hero, Jimi Hendrix, also played left-handed. When he arrived in New York and having very little to no money at all, Chris began to walk down the halls of New School for Jazz and overheard the sounds of music coming from one room. He stepped inside to check it out and found out they needed a bass player. Much to his surprise, the Dean of the school heard him playing in rehearsal and offered him a full scholarship on the spot. While building up his repertoire of talent as a bass player at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Chris witnessed his dreams of becoming his own musician manifest. Word got around that the bass had a new face and soon Ornette Coleman, Art Blakey, Bob James, Jimmy Heath, Cassandra Wilson and countless others began to call on Chris for session work. Soon he was playing and performing at top venues with those who he had only seen in his dreams. With a growing stream of dates and accomplishments, led to his eventually becoming musical director for songstress and R&B legend, Regina Belle. Chris toured, Ornette Coleman simultaneously and had to choose between him and Regina Belle. Deciding to continue to direct music for Ms. Belle proved a wise one leading him into a deal with Pendulum Records. It seemed as if the entire world was screaming the name Chris Walker and things got even better. Upon his releasing, “First Time”, which charted two top five singles, “Giving You All My Love” and “Take Time” a crossover and top 30 on the pop charts. How Do You Heal a Broken Heart”, and his release of “First Time” boosted his career and as it continued to top charts; there was nothing that could stand in the way of his big dream. His second release entitled, Sincerely Yours, included the classic song, “How Do You Heal A Broken Heart, written by Chris and Carole Bayer Sager, has received over 40 million views on YouTube and placed another feather of accomplishments on Chris’ hat. As he explained to us here at 15Minutes, his prayer and faith are always first in his life and has served him by giving him extraordinary strength during troubled times. A student and jazz lover, once again life answered when Chris called. His former teacher, Gil Goldstein, called him to let him know that Al Jarreau was looking for a bass player. Chris jumped at the referral and received the good, great fortune of working with Jarreau. After some time of hanging and backing up Jarreau with his own brand of musical flavor, Jarreau asked Chris to become his musical director. He worked with Jarreau for 22 years and became great at mimicking him while doing background vocals and playing the bass on stage behind him. Walker would have to keep up with the fast and riveting style of which the seven-time grammy winner was so well known for. In tribute to Jarreau
Chris explained how co-producer and musician, Larry Williams, and the list of prestigious artists came to be on the Jarreau Tribute. Walker said he called Larry and said, “listen man,” we have to do a tribute to Al Jarreau. Larry jumped at the chance and said, “I’m in.” Word got out that the project needed funding and the rest just happened. Everybody jumped in ro get the project done. Regina Belle, Kirk Whalum, Randy Brecker, Will Downing, Nathan East, David Foster, Bob James, Paul Jackson, Jr, Dave Koz, Bobby Lyle, Marcus Miller, Greg Phillinganes, Arturo Sandoval and Mark Simmons.
With a group of hard-core Jarreau fans ready and available to bring the thunderous song and voice of Al back to life, I would say that Chris Walker is the perfect instrument to do so.
For more information on Chris Walker and to purchase the CD, Celebrating Tribute to Al Jarreau visit www.chriswalkersmusic.com