Take Five With Dorian Wallace

Dorian Wallace By

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Meet Dorian Wallace:

Dorian Wallace is a composer, pianist, synthesist, writer, and teacher. His career has experienced a diverse musical palette including orchestral, chamber, avant-garde, jazz, free improvisation, classical dance, electronic, film, opera, hip-hop, and rock. He is co-founder/artistic director of Tenth Intervention and Trystero, as well as artistic director of Dorian Wallace and His Big Band. He also plays keyboard in the jam band, AmmoCake.


Composer, pianist, synthesist.

Teachers and/or influences?

Igor Stravinsky, Alban Berg, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Elliot Carter, John Zorn, Wu-Tang Clan, Frank London, Meshuggah, Frederic Rzewski, Olivier Messiaen, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Locust, Rage Against The Machine, etc.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I heard an old woman perform Rachmanninov's Prelude in C# minor at a local concert in Alliance, Oh.

Your sound and approach to music:

I love harmony, textures, and timbre.

Your teaching approach:

Sound is simple. One must learn how to hear it.

Your dream band:

I have my dream band. Tenth Intervention, Dorian Wallace and His Big Band, AmmoCake, and Trystero are all exactly what I want to play in!

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Chick Corea, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Blue Note, 1968).

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I expose audiences to avant-garde music without dumbing down the art. People really enjoy the shows!

CDs you are listening to now:

Meshuggah, obZen (Nuclear Blast, 2008).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Always moving, always evolving.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

We just need to make it cool—that's all!

What is in the near future?

Writing an opera right now with my avant-duo Trystero.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?

There are no fears. I have fear of interacting with people before and after the show!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

"Piano Trio, No. 1" by Dorian Wallace.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?


By Day:

Dance accompanist at Martha Graham Dance Company, Jose Limon Dance Company, and Purchase Conservatory of Dance.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

I would be a criminal psychologist specializing in serial murderers.

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