Jambase article by Catherine Mattingly 10/21/03

It was an all-star lineup at Together Fest 2003. And if anybody stole the stage at Black Oak Mountain Amphitheater, it was trumpet player Willie Waldman and his ensemble of musical greats. Rob Wasserman playing bass, Jim Loughlin from moe. bringing the vibes, Chuck Fields on drums, and Clint Wagner on guitar all joined their talents to form the Willie Waldman Project.

Waldman, who fueled his music career on the streets of Memphis, Tennessee, took to the stage full force with outrageous energy and rocked out some heavy jazz-fused jams. Not a soul was left sitting in the dark as traveling artist Norton Wisdom painted to the harmony of superb talent.

Some guests to join the Waldman crew on that starry night included famous blues musician Jimmy Ellis on drums, and vocalist Tanya Shylock. Ellis, who was Waldman’s original drummer in Memphis, created a highly contagious beat of funky rhythm. As the jazz-oriented tunes flowed, listeners were in awe when Tanya Shylock from Mountain of Venus streamed her voice throughout the hills of Missouri.

If you’ve ever seen a Willie Waldman show, you know that he represents the perfect example of talent and originality. When Willie goes on stage, there is no set list, instead Willie creates everything as he goes.

“I did the same on my record Trumpet Ride,” says Waldman of his newest album. Music lovers can all appreciate the unique style of free-form that Waldman brings to every show. “The reason I make up all the music is that it really represents the night and crowd and every show is different… That is the fun of free-form, to just let things happen instead of trying to script everything and play perfect renditions of your songs,” commented Waldman.

Willie and the boys finished the show with an ultimately satisfied crowd, and to say the least, the performance was a work of art. Talk about a night to remember. Preceded by David Nelson, Willie Waldman Project left the stage overflowing with music, only to be flooded by the talent of ekoostik hookah, who brought the festival to a close.

Just a few of the other phenomenal bands who performed at Togetherfest were Yonder Mountain String Band, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, the McCloskey Brothers, Broken Grass, and Mountain of Venus. I think it’s safe to declare that everyone who attended this year’s festival left with good feelings, great music, and the tunes of next Togetherfest to look forward to.