Gary Walters plays well with others


A clarinet, three vocalists and a saxophone are typically not members one would expect to find together in an ensemble.

However, with the addition of a piano, this ensemble created a concert to remember.

Gary Walters, a professor in Butler University’s music department and a 2011 inductee into the Indianapolis Jazz Hall of Fame, joined forces with a group of musicians to create a truly memorable recital Tuesday at the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall.

The theme of the performance was “Plays Well With Others: A Retrospective.”

Walters showed off his friends in the community, by incorporating them into his performance.

Walters claimed he was in attendance to blend into the background and showcase the abilities of his acquaintances, but it was clear that he shared the spotlight.

Walters, on piano, was joined by vocalists Erin Benedict, Steven Stolen and George Benn, clarinetist Shawn Goodman and saxophonist Michael Stricklin.

Each of them played three pieces with Walters.

The performance began with Benedict’s downcast vocal rendition of “If You Never Come to Me.” Her voice flowed through the hall with its smooth, full sounds.

However, jazz is not all soulful love songs and swoon.

The spirit began to lift, first with the sound of Goodman’s clarinet playing standards such as “Embraceable You.”

Stolen’s tunes featured well-known sounds like “Moon River” and “Isn’t it Romantic.”

Stolen seemed to make contact with the whole audience during his songs, leaning against the piano as he gazed out into the hall.

The notes coming out of Stricklin’s saxophone floated into the air as his fingers moved at such a fast pace they almost seemed to blur.

However, he never missed a beat, keeping up with the increasing pace as time went on.

The final performance, by Benn, was by far the most fun and engaging.

Benn began to sing as soon as his feet hit the stage, making the audience reflect on fall as “Autumn Leaves” sounded out.

To finish the recital, Benn sang “In a Mellow Tone” in a rather non-traditional way.

He changed up the lyrics to discuss the performance itself. He then transitioned to scat, moving around the stage to the groove of the music.

Taking a non-traditional group of instruments paired with a piano, Walter’s recital was an amazing performance by an exemplary group of musicians. I give this performance a four-and-a-half out of five stars.