San Francisco-based trombonist Wayne Wallace's first professional musician jobs were in a Top Forty group and a James Brown cover band. From there, he attended San Francisco State University, graduating with a degree in Performance. Then he traveled to Havana, Cuba to study Afro-Cuban music at the National School of Arts. His search seems more steeped in dedication than recklessness, though he's titled this release The Reckless Search for Beauty.
Wallace brings his wide-ranging experience to a vibrant set that mixes Afro-Cuban music with funk and a myriad of Latin dance styles, plus R&B shadings, a dash of pop sensibility, and, always, a superb polyrhythmic drive.
The opener, "El Duende Africano," sets the tone: insistent and brassy over multiple percussion that bubbles and pops with an infectious, danceable vibrancy. "Paso a Paso" brings Dizzy Gillespie's Latin Big Band work to mind; and Bill Withers' rhythm and blues hit "Use Me" features a saucy, picante vocal by Alexa Weber Morales, mixing English and Spanish lyrics.
Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue" gets modernized with a deep bass groove and some soaring synth work in front of a multiple-bata rhythm section and a passionate, smooth-toned lead vocal by Alexa Weber Morales again, flying over some lush vocal harmonies. Duke Ellington's "Chromatic Love Affair" is done in a more mainstream mode; Murray Lowe provides a sparkling Duke-like piano behind Wallace's beautifully laid-back trombone solo and whispering flute.
This is a "put on your dancing shoes affair" for the most part, and Wayne Wallace displays a method behind his reckless search for musical beauty.
Track Listing: El Duende Africano; Paso a Paso; Use Me; Tune Up; Rhythm & Rhyme; Chromatic Love Affair;
Nadie; Obatala/AfroBlue; La Encantadora; Esta Noche; El Rio de Oro.
Personnel: Wayne Wallace: tombone, spoken word (1); Alexa Weber Morales: vocals (1,3,5,7,8,11);
John Santos: timbales bongo, bata, percussion; Michael Spiro: congas, bata, percussion;
Paul Van Wageningen: trap drums; David Belove: bass; Murray Lowe: piano (1-6,8,9,10);
Frank Martin: electric piano, synthesizer; David Yamasaki: guitar; Louis Fasman, John
Worley: trumpet, flugelhorn; Melicio Magdaluya: saxes, flute; Ron Stallings: tenor sax.
Special Guests: Ron Rollins: vocals: (3,5,8); Dave Martell: trombone (2,10); Kat Parra:
vocals (1,3,5,8); Orlando Torriente: vocals (1,3,5,8); Sheryl Lynne-Wallace: vocals (1,3,8).
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.