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5 ½ Hours of Coltrane

October 27, 2010

The night was crisp with hints of rain in the sky. I arrived in the East/West quad on campus as fellow-student Brett Walberg pulled into the nearby Studio Road Parking lot. I've always hated driving in the rain, and even more when it's at night. Luckily though, Providence wasn't a terribly long drive, so off we went to the AS220.

"I was once asked to play a gig," Walberg said as he pulled off an exit to 95 South. "The guy didn't want me to play anything besides John Coltrane. About halfway through, completely lost and with one IPod ear bud in the rest of the set, we got it done."

Walberg, a Lasell College Junior and former Laser soccer player, blames his hopeless love of jazz on his godparents and Lawrence Welk. We were on our way to Providence; a gig Walberg was going to play with his band O.#+ (oh-dot-pound-plus). "My band-mate handed me this gig. My favorite place to play is Symphony Hall in Boston. There is so much history it gives me the chills," he said.

As a freelance musician bent on never settling on just one thing, travel has become natural. "They say you play to feed your addiction. My addiction happens to be performing, so I do, as often as I can." Asking Walberg to be one-dimensional is like asking him to only play soccer, or only cook; he just won't do it.

Walberg added, "I can't sing, I can't dance, my brother played clarinet, and drums were too expensive. There is nothing better, so why not music? Bebop is something I love." Arriving at the AS220, I got coffee and a seat. Walberg went to sound check. The sonorous hum of the sax emanated through the café. The band emerged shortly afterwards and each member bought a pre-set drink.

"Boston sticks to what it knows; a bunch of tight old guys who won't give you the time of day if you didn't go to Berklee. It's not all about the money; if it was, I would have stopped long ago. It's just harder [in Boston]." Walberg said.

Walberg blew his cerebral sounds up on stage, rocking his body playing an original composition called "Sparkling." "I'm a true romantic at heart. ‘Sparkling' is about home. Not where you reside, [but] how someone makes you feel. Home smiles and her eyes sparkle. Home is another reason I got into jazz. ‘Sparkling' is about the way home seems to sparkle, and the music conveys that," he said.

Afterwards, we cleaned up our table and headed for the exits. Walberg took time to say goodnight to the regular staff of the club; a smile and a handshake is what we all received. A hopeless romantic with electric talent and a need to feed the addiction he called performing.

Written by Brian Yepez '11, an intern with the Office of Alumni Relations


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