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Bennie Wallace

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 18, 1946, Bennie Lee Wallace took up the tenor saxophone at age 12. He worked after hours clubs around Tennessee during his high school and college years and graduated on clarinet from the University of Tennessee in 1968. Three years later he moved to New York where he played concerts and club gigs with musicians like Barry Harris, Cecil McBee, Buddy Rich, Monty Alexander, Glen Moore and others. In 1979, Bennie Wallace burst onto the international Jazz scene with his award-winning first release on Enja Records, The Fourteen Bar Blues. The critical acclaim was overwhelming, hailing Bennie Wallace as the "New Saxophone Giant", the youngest of a lineage including Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Albert Ayler and Sonny Rollins. New York Arts Journal called Bennie Wallace "the most important reed player since Dolphy's and Coleman's startling work in the early sixties", and continued: "Everything lacking in Sonny Rollins' present work is abundantly manifest in the brilliant debut album of the 32-year-old tenor saxist Bennie Wallace. Wallace's voice strikes one immediately as so individual and secure because he has assimilated the salient traits of every conceivable past and present Jazz style, transmuting them according to his own strong, unmistakable personality rather than becoming overwhelmed by the weight of tradition (as other explorers of the past have often suffered)." Following that auspicious debut, Bennie Wallace took over the role of the forward-looking, exploratory traditionalist. He made a great series of recordings for Enja Records like Live at the Public Theatre, The Free Will, BW plays Monk, BW with Chick Corea, Big Jim's tango and Sweeping through the city , working with such diverse Jazz greats as Tommy Flanagan, Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, Dave Holland, John Scofield, Elvin Jones, Harold Ashby, Oliver Lake, Ray Anderson, Yosuke Yamashita, Jimmy Knepper, and many others. He also showed his Southern roots by playing and recording with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dr. John and other blues and gospel artists. Examples of this work can be found in his recordings Twilight Time andBordertown for Blue Note Records. Wallace also produced two records for the Japanese label Denon: Brilliant Corners and The Art of Saxophone. During the late eighties, Wallace moved to California and worked in the film and TV industries: he wrote the music for movies like Bull Durham, Blaze, and White men can't jump, as well as shorts like Little Surprises and Redux Riding Hood.

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150
Album Review

Bennie Wallace: Disorder at the Border, The Music of Coleman Hawkins

Read "Disorder at the Border, The Music of Coleman Hawkins" reviewed by Laurel Gross


Left New York's Jazz Standard last month barefoot because the band blew my socks (and even my boots) off. Baby it was cold outside, a December night threatening snow. But Bennie Wallace and the boys had played so hot I was warmed up inside and so immune to any chill. Wallace has been working on his tribute to Coleman Hawkins for some time and to celebrate the 2007 Justin Time CD release of Disorder at the Border: ...

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Interview

Bennie Wallace: Disorder at the Border

Read "Bennie Wallace: Disorder at the Border" reviewed by Donald Elfman


Saxophonist Bennie Wallace, also known for his clarinet work, moved to New York in 1971 after graduating from the University of Tennessee, playing with Monty Alexander, Sheila Jordan and others before debuting as a leader in 1978. He has released numerous records for Enja and also had a pair of highly-regarded discs for Blue Note in the late 1980s. In the fall of 2007, he brought an ambitious project to New York City, celebrating the work of the legendary Coleman ...

236
Album Review

Bennie Wallace: Disorder at the Border: The Music of Coleman Hawkins

Read "Disorder at the Border: The Music of Coleman Hawkins" reviewed by J Hunter


Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins' musical footprints stretch back to the 1920s, when he played with Louis Armstrong in Fletcher Henderson's orchestra. It's true that Hawkins was one of the forerunners of bebop, and went on to play and record with Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane. But Hawk's signature recording of the standard “Body and Soul dates back to 1939, when he was playing in Europe with legends like Benny Carter and Django Reinhardt. Hawkins is a star Bennie ...

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Album Review

Bennie Wallace: Disorder at the Border: The Music of Coleman Hawkins

Read "Disorder at the Border: The Music of Coleman Hawkins" reviewed by Robert R. Calder


This is a stomping band, as Coleman Hawkins said of the Fletcher Henderson orchestra he -- and the hitherto mostly awkward tenor saxophone -- grew up together with. Louis Armstrong and his hero the great cellist Pablo Casals inspired Hawkins' phrasing and timing, Art Tatum and J.S. Bach his harmonic command. His nickname “Bean" referred to high intelligence, he was an instrumental virtuoso with immense stamina and invention qua improviser, a passionate complex man never to be underrated.

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Album Review

Bennie Wallace: The Nearness of You

Read "The Nearness of You" reviewed by Rich Friedman


In their quest to beef up a CD’s exposure, good-intentioned industry insiders can sometimes unintentionally steer an album down a dead-end path. On the cover of Bennie Wallace’s The Nearness of You, a voluptuous woman clings to his shoulder looking seductively at his sax. The liner notes feature another babe in a low-cut evening dress resting on a piano with a sax. Viagra-infused lounge lizards trying to impress their first dates with their impeccable taste in mood music—and Park Avenue ...

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Album Review

Bennie Wallace: Bennie Wallace in Berlin

Read "Bennie Wallace in Berlin" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey


Bennie Wallace, we are glad you are back from Hollywood...

I whole-heartedly agree with magazine-mate Glenn Astarita in his summation of Bennie Wallace’s new Enja recording Bennie Wallace in Berlin, when he states that “Bennie Wallace is irrefutably one of the finest tenor saxophonists alive." I am a relative late comer to Mr. Wallace’s music. I had known him by reputation and reading (two ways of “knowing" that are sorely lacking once compared to listening ), and Live in Berlin ...

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Album Review

Bennie Wallace: Bennie Wallace In Berlin

Read "Bennie Wallace In Berlin" reviewed by Glenn Astarita


Bennie Wallace is irrefutably one of the finest tenor saxophonists alive. Although his distinguishable talents sometimes lack the widespread recognition he justifiably deserves. With this live release, the tenorist performs with a superior rhythm section. They pep up Gershwin, and Arlen standards, while the leader contributes three pieces to this vibrantly enacted set. Wallace’s fluent, angular lines and acute utilization of all registers is subsidized by his broad, corpulent tone. Whether deconstructing or retooling a familiar ballad or adhering to ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Disorder at the...

Justin Time Records
2008

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Disorder at the...

Justin Time Records
2007

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Disorder At The...

Enja Records
2006

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The Nearness of You

Enja Records
2004

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Moodsville

Groove Note Records
2002

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Bennie Wallace In...

Enja Records
2002

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