Walker is a prolific composer and pianist who started playing the saxophone at age ten in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN. He was the founder of the club Brilliant Corners – voted by Downbeat magazine as “One of the 100 Great Jazz Clubs Worldwide,” and co-founder of the non-profit organization Jazz is NOW!– which launched with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet and surprise guest, Itzhak Perlman. In 2003, City Pages voted Walker “Best Local Impresario” for his “community-conscious” programing. Turning to piano and composition in 2005, Walker earned recognition including a Jerome Foundation Travel/Study grant, and collaborations with TU Dance and Zenon Dance Company. He has performed with Vincent Gardner, Marcus Printup, Ted Nash, Ron Miles, Matt Wilson, JT Bates, and other notable musicians. In addition to commissions, Walker has written over 70 compositions for his bands: Small City Trio, Boot Camp, BOXCAR featuring Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson and Anthony Cox, The NOWnet, and The Bootet. His current projects include work involving opera, film (Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story), and jazz ensemble with solo voice and choir (7 PSALMS) He was recently awarded an MRAC Next Step grant torecord Boot Camp. Walker also authors a series of articles on culture for Walker Art Center and mnartists.org. For more information: www.boot-music.com.
Walker experienced his first symptoms fifteen years ago. With growing joint pain, weakness, and loss of balance, he was walking with a cane by the age of 35. Neurological challenges affecting his mobility, his speech, and his embouchure (how one holds his lips to the mouthpiece) finally forced him to quit the saxophone, his instrument of 25 years. He struggled through his last gig as a saxophonist at The Nomad Bar on Minneapolis’ West Bank in 2005.
As is the case with many suffering from Lyme Disease, Walker spent years seeking a diagnosis. Doctors explored rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Bell’s palsy, fibromyalgia, brain cancer, and even psychosomatic causes. Although tested for Lyme Disease, the doctors did not detect the illness at that time. With thousands of dollars in medical bills, and the loss of his career as a saxophonist and instructor, Walker eventually gave up on a diagnosis and instead focused on managing his symptoms through acupuncture, acupressure, diet, and exercise. His mobility increased, and he began to teach himself a new instrument – the piano. In 2012, his symptoms worsened. Through the urging of an acquaintance who knew of advances in Lyme Disease testing, Walker was again tested and finally diagnosed with late stages Lyme Disease in March 2013.
THE COST OF TREATMENT
Walker’s medical team is comprised of medical and holistic doctors. Now uninsured, he is looking at potential treatment costs of up to $75,000. A volunteer committee of friends and family formed with the goal to raise funds so that Walker could begin his treatment plan. Ticket sales (minus fees) and on-site donations will be applied to the fundraising goal of $20,000. For those who wish to donate online, they can do so by visiting Walker’s YouCaring page: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-bootkick-chronic-lyme/51056
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Jeremy is honest and caring and his music is the same way: personal, focused on what is essential–honest and committed. So when I heard there was a benefit for him (to overcome the latest obstacle, which I have no doubt he’ll do in splendid fashion) I was thrilled to be able to be a part of it.” —David Berkman
“Jeremy Walker is passionate about music. I first met ‘Boot’ after he drove several hours to see The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. At that time he was a bandleader and saxophonist determined to make a difference with his music. When his illness forced him to quit the saxophone, he opened a jazz club and worked against overwhelming odds to continue bringing music to the community. When circumstances ultimately caused the club to close, instead of packing it in and quitting, he took up the piano and explored his talents as a composer. Because of his determination, Jeremy Walker, still fighting his illness, has become a creative force, and his passion for playing and sharing his music is an inspiration to me.” —Ted Nash