PETER WELKER: WE'LL BE TOGETHER AGAIN
Jazz trumpeter Peter Welker has been a close friend of mine ever since we met as students at Berklee School of Music (1961-62). Later, he moved out to California. In 1993, after many hospital visits, his five-year-old son died of Leukemia. Pete dedicated his first jazz CD to his boy. I was one the musicians asked to play on the CD. Some years later, Peter recorded another CD. This one, he dedicated to three Souls who had passed on, very much loved and missed - his mother (a blind jazz singer and pianist), his son, and his drummer’s teenage daughter. The first CD title that Pete was considering was "The Very Thought Of You", a beautiful old standard tune that Billie Holiday sang. One day, Pete was playing tunes from a book on his music stand. He went downstairs for a while and when he came back to the room, he found that the wind had blown through an open window turning the pages in his songbook to "We’ll Be Together Again". This was a tune he loved that his mom used to play on the piano. Pete decided that this would be a better title for his CD, for it presented a brighter, more optimistic outlook than his original, more nostalgic choice.
Pete called me to see if I would come out to California and play on his new CD. I said yes. When he told me about the incident of the wind coming through his window, I got very inspired and threw out the idea for him to use "We’ll Be Together Again" as the opener and closer for his CD, copying the way BS&T used the Erik Satie piece as bookends on their album. Pete got excited about my idea. Then I suggested that he and I play this title tune as a duo, two different ways –begin the CD with him on flugelhorn and me on piano, and then end the CD with me on alto and him on piano. Pete liked this idea too. Playing duo brought us “two-gether again”, as did, me sharing back to back solos on one of the CD tracks with trumpeter and my former Berklee teacher, Herb Pomeroy. Peter had studied the trumpet with Herb in Boston as a teenager, and Peter’s mom (who had also taught at Berklee) was a longtime friend of Herb. At the end of the closing track for the CD, I transformed a sustained low note that I was playing on my alto into a very soft overtone. It’s a tone someone remembers me telling them that, “came out of heaven”. Perhaps, it was a ripple or reminder of the wind (Breath of God) that rearranged Pete’s music pages - stopping on a humble tune title to help change over his heart from melancholy to joy!