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Wayne Wallace - a musical pioneer

Wayne Wallace is an extremely busy musician. With the release of his two CDs a few weeks ago, The Reckless Search for Beauty and Dedication, the Latin and straight ahead jazz trombonist still finds the time to wear the hats of composer, arranger and educator. And as if that were not enough, he has added CEO to his title as the person behind the burgeoning Patois recording label.

Wayne Wallace is truly a musical connoisseur who has sampled varied musical genres. Born and raised in San Francisco, Wayne's name is synonymous with Bay area Latin/Funk jazz music. A multi-faceted arranger and composer, he has been credited as producing work for acts like Celine Dion, Angela Bofill, Chris Isaak, Earth Wind and Fire and Whitney Houston to name a few.

On his latest compilations, the music is definitely conducive to dancing and is baked fresh with Brazilian and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Wayne took some time away from his busy schedule to talk to

Jazzreview: You've produced two CDs for release this time around. How did you find the time and the material to put them together?

Wayne Wallace: I write/compose at least five days a week. I don't always wait for a project to come along to start writing. Creativity is something that has to be constantly nurtured everyday. When I have a project at hand, I will compose for it specifically and look at ideas I have lying around that can be developed in the context of the project.

Jazzreview: Let's talk about your two new CDs. How do they differ from your previous releases musically?

Wayne Wallace: Dedication is more of a live blowing session that gives the musicians on the CD a chance to stretch out and play. Several songs like "Blues Image" and "Someday" have strongly developed arrangements, but the main thrust of the CD are songs like "Benin," "R.S.V.P.," and "Yours Truly."

The concept of The Reckless Search for Beauty is to integrate Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian stylings with elements of R&B music. I also wanted to have more vocal songs on this CD. I felt that as a first time artist, it wasn't the right time to do so many different things at the onset. Now that I have done three CDs, I feel that it is the right time to move in that direction.

Jazzreview: It seem that your chosen genre is mainly Latin Jazz. What is the fascination?

Wayne Wallace: The San Francisco music has always allowed me to play and learn about many different genres of music (Afro-beat, ska, jazz, funk, South American, etc.). As a trombonist, I was asked to play in several salsa bands in the area. From these groups I started to meet Latin jazz musicians like John Santos and Pete Escovedo.

Jazzreview: So when did the penchant for this genre of music begin?

Wayne Wallace: As I became more immersed in that scene, it led to studying Afro-Cuban music on a formal basis. I made my first visit to Havana to study at the Havana National School of the Arts in 1993 and continued through 1999. For me, the time in Cuba was life changing musically and personally. The classes in Havana offered me a window to look at music in a totally different way.

Jazzreview: How long have you been playing music and who or what inspired you?

Wayne Wallace: I started studying piano at age eight, so it makes 46 years now. I started trombone when I was 10-years old. One day, my mother asked me if I wanted to play piano and I said, "Yes." I guess natural curiosity led into music. There was no epiphany at the beginning; it came in high school.

Jazzreview: Do you come from a musical family?

Wayne Wallace: I only have one cousin that I know of in my family that plays music. He played guitar professionally for a long time, but has stopped to raise a family.

Jazzreview: When did you get your first musical break and with which musician or group?

Wayne Wallace: I have never really had one big break in my career. There have been many special times along the way (working with Narada Michael, Walden, Con-funk-shun, Tito Puente, Sammy Davis, Jr. and many more). If I had to pick one, I would say my association with Pete Escovedo has been one of the most pivotal and important breaks in my musical career because led to associations with so many more great musicians.

Jazzreview: I heard that you write film scores. Name a few of them and were you ever nominated for any awards.

Wayne Wallace: I have done television and film work for the movie "Selena," "Race is the Place" PBS documentary "The Amy Fischer Story," "Lulu's Bridge," "Play it to the Bone," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "Nash Bridges," "The Steve Harvey Show," "Guiding Light" and "Star Search."

Jazzreview: That's quite an accomplishment. Are you on tour or plan to do so?

Wayne Wallace: I have toured off and on with a variety of groups since the 1980s, nationally and internationally (Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean). I am actively working on touring with the music from both of these CDs.

Jazzreview: What's the jazz scene like for you in San Francisco? Are people receptive to this kind of music?

Wayne Wallace: The music scene in San Francisco is very receptive to the music that I like to perform. I feel blessed in many ways to be here because I feel a synergy with the area that is still evolving for myself and many musicians here. There are very knowledgeable fans of the music that have given us incredible support over the years.

Jazzreview: What are you working on these days besides promoting your new CDs.

Wayne Wallace: I am working at developing my record label Patois Records. It's a totally different hat for me that requires a lot of attention. I am currently working on the music for a new musical that will be up and running this April, and I am also in pre-production with vocalist Kat Parra for her next CD. There's a bunch of other projects that are starting to pop up for later this year also. I plan on getting into the recording studio later this year to start the CD for myself.

Jazzreview: Any plans to duet with any R&B vocalists a la Sergio Mendes?

Wayne Wallace: I have a project in mind that I want to be an all vocal CD. I hope to start on it next year.

JazzReview: With one of the best Latin jazz bands in the Bay Area, Wayne Wallace is coined as the Renaissance Man of Afro-Latin Jazz. Thank you, Wayne, for sharing your time and thoughts.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Wayne Wallace
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