may have made of Waller on stage, off stage-at least to his band-he
was apparently something of a contradiction. On the job, he was,
as always, hardworking, encouraging, and efficient. Behind the scenes
or on the road, however, he could apparently be mercurial, abruptly
shifting moods. Occasionally, without warning, he would abruptly
order a halt to a tour and return to New York. (Indeed, he developed
something of a reputation for skipping dates for which he was under
contract, especially if he had prior experience with the venue that
had in some way proven unsatisfactory, or that had aroused his antipathy
through racism.) On the other hand, various band members have documented
incidents of Waller's substantial personal generosity, including
of new instruments specifically for them.
Kirkeby's documentation of the tours is remarkable
for the variety of circumstances in which Waller has been captured
on film. Whether on the bus, at rest stops, on board ship, or at various
locations in England, we see Waller and those around him in performance,
preparing for performance, and relaxing afterwards; we also find him
at play, at rest, socializing, and even (though rarely!) contemplating.
These photographs, then, reveal Waller in a broad array of social
and professional contexts; taken collectively, they suggest not the
clichéd view of Waller as a simple buffoon, but they disclose
instead the underlying complexity of his personality-one fully committed
to his art.