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Byron Wallen

Byron was raised in a musical environment and started learning his first instrument, the piano, at an early age. He then went on to study the trumpet with Jimmy Owens, Donald Byrd and Jon Faddis in New York. His early music career was forged while he was studying for a degree in Psychology, Philosophy and Maths at Sussex University (he graduated in 1992). During this period he recorded for Loose Ends and Cleveland Watkiss, and played trumpet with the likes of Mervyn Africa, The Style Council, Charles Earland, Courtney Pine and Jean Toussaint.

By the late 90s his work was receiving world wide attention and his fluent trumpet, firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, could be heard performing with a myriad of artists such as David Murray, Andrew Hill, Butch Morris, Ralph Moore, Billy Higgins, Eddie Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Herlin Riley, Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, William Orbit, Toumani Diabate, Brice Wassy, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ronnie Laws and Chaka Khan. His trumpet has also appeared alongside African pioneers such as Hugh Masekela, Manu Dibango and Amampondo. One of the most versatile and dynamic voices on the British jazz scene, he has performed with rap outfits such as The Roots, Digable Planets and Us3.The Windrush Gala Concert in 2001 saw Byron work with Mica Paris, Caron Wheeler, Shola Ama, Roland Gift, Desmond Dekker, Janet Kay and Grace Jones. The concert was staged as a culmination of a remarkable season of programs by the BBC.

He has collaborated and recorded with Talvin Singh on the Mercury prize award-winning album “OK” for Island Records (2000); Craig David, laying down brass parts and soloing on the title track “Slicker Than Your Average” (2002); and Courtney Pine on the albums “Back in the Day” (2000) and “Devotion” (2003).

Byron's film and TV appearances include The House of Elliott (1996), the Paramount picture The Talented Mr. Ripley (2000) in which he played a jazz trumpeter, the Stephen Fry film Bright Young Things (2003) and De-Lovely, The Cole Porter Story (2004). His Kudu horn can be heard in the Warner Brothers film Troy (2004).

The past few years have seen Byron perform with World Music artists Baaba Maal and Cheikh-Lo (2005) and a host of jazz legends: Bobby McFerrin (2005); Sam Rivers (2006); Andrew Hill tours (2006

Awards

For Byron’s fourth album, Meeting Ground (2007), featuring Gnawa master musician Boujemma Boubul, he received nominations for Best Band and Best Album in the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards and Best Jazz Act in the 2007 MOBO Awards. In 2017, Wallen received the coveted Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists.


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7
Album Review

Zoe Rahman: Colour of Sound

Read "Colour of Sound" reviewed by Neil Duggan


If you have shown your virtuosity on the piano in a variety of live and studio recordings, been recognized as one of the leading lights in contemporary British jazz and won multiple awards, what do you do next? In Zoe Rahman's case, more of the same but expanded and magnified. Most often heard in a trio format, Rahman has assembled seven trusted musicians to create an uplifting album, The Colour of Sound. Perhaps resulting from her background in ...

35
Album Review

Rob Luft: Life Is The Dancer

Read "Life Is The Dancer" reviewed by Chris May


British guitarist Rob Luft's debut album, Riser (Edition, 2017), was greeted with huge acclaim. Some observers likened his arrival to the emergence of Wes Montgomery or Pat Metheny. The music world is used to hyperbole, but for once the praise is justified. For anyone yet to hear Luft, a useful yardstick is the pianist Bill Evans: Luft conjures up degrees of seraphic beauty akin to those created by Evans during his purple period with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul ...

7
Album Review

Byron Wallen: Portrait

Read "Portrait" reviewed by Chris May


An all too rare event, an album from Byron Wallen. The British trumpeter is part of that cohort of musicians who immediately preceded, and continue to inspire, the young London rebels who have been renewing British jazz since around 2015. So, too, is this album's drummer, Rod Youngs. Youngs was born and raised in the US, where during the 1990s he was Gil Scott-Heron's drummer of choice. But since moving to London, Youngs has been aligned with contemporaries such as ...

255
Album Review

Byron Wallen: Meeting Ground

Read "Meeting Ground" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay


This album arose from a series of journeys--geographical, cultural and spiritual, but above all musical--undertaken by trumpeter and leader Byron Wallen, who first visited Morocco in 1996. The result of these journeys is a joyous and original record, fusing contemporary jazz with the music of the Gnawa musicians of Morocco.

The ten pieces of music on Meeting Ground tell the story of Bilal, a 6th century Abyssinian slave who was known for his beautiful singing. Released ...

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Byron Wallen is ‘one of the most innovative, exciting and original trumpet players alive’ - Jazzwise Magazine.

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Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Colour of Sound

Manushi Records
2023

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Port Of Saints

Discus Music
2022

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Portrait

Twilight Jaguar
2020

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Life Is The Dancer

Edition Records
2020

buy

Meeting Ground

Twilight Jaguar
2007

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