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Serendipity

Posted on : 10-12-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Life, Music

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“Whether we name divine presence, synchronicity, serendipity, or grace moments matters little. What matters is the reality that our hearts have been understood. Nothing is as real as healthy dose of magic which restores our spirits.” (Nancy Long)

2010 has been a special year for me. It wasn’t just that the San Francisco Giants won a World Series title this year that made me proud to be a Giants fan, it was how they won it. Like many other bay area natives I had hoped for this moment since 1962.(Cub fans take heart!!!!) The process of watching a season of transformation with a team searching for identity and suddenly finding itself totally, was an awe inspiring sports moment no matter which team you root for.

For me it is a tremendous accomplishment and honor to receive a Grammy nomination. When your peers take notice of you, you have done something special. Yesterday we received the news that ¡Bien Bien! was chosen as one of the “Best Cds of 2010″ by Downbeat magazine.

To be recognized by Downbeat magazine in the same year as a Grammy nomination is akin to winning two legs of the Triple Crown in baseball!!! (Wonder what the equivalent of the third leg would be?)
Very cool stuff. I don’t know who or what is driving this moment but it sure is a nice ride!

BTW Went and saw Los Van Van at the San Francisco Yoshi’s last night. Great to see the cats and catch up. Going again this evening to listen, sit in a song or two, talk shop and bring down some trombones for the cats to check out.

Hasta later, Wayne

Living In The Moment

Posted on : 09-12-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Life

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In the midst of celebrating the Grammy nomination for ¡Bien Bien! we are saddened by the news our dear friend and colleague Paul van Wageningen suffered a mild stroke on Monday. The good news is that he was attended to quickly and is on the road to recovery. Paul’s wife Toni has e-mailed us that “He is on the road to recovery. He is very lucky and has no muscle paralysis and is already tapping out tunes on the bed linens.”
Because life has the first and last word in everything, I believe that living in the moment is our best answer to the daily challenges and questions it presents to us. We all have many blessings bestowed upon us that we should cherish (family, friends, health), cherish them everyday.

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

One whirlwind week

Posted on : 08-12-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Music

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It’s been one whirlwind week since we got the news of the Grammy nomination for ¡Bien Bien!
245 congratulatory Facebook and E-mails, phone calls from friends relatives and the coolness of the folks you see on a regular basis happy that it happened. Radio stations and media outlets have requested interviews and are playing ¡Bien Bien! with renewed vigor.

While all of this is going, we have two new releases on the Patois Records label we are preparing for release in January (more info to come).

On a completely different level the conversations around the nomination have been interesting on many levels. It seems to have opened up doors for fond remembrances of old mutual friends, memorable past gigs (good and bad), anecdotes and most importantly being present with the here and now. Very hip energy surrounded by good vibes. I am truly enjoying being able to share this moment with my immediate and extended families.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

My students at San Jose State

Posted on : 07-12-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Music

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There were some cool moments yesterday with my students at San Jose State.
I teach two General Education classes, Worlds of Jazz and Music and Culture of Latin America.
90 % of these students are not music majors so the classes aren’t geared to the technical aspects and theory of music but are demanding because the students have to learn the history of the music and important figures (musically, socially and politically) who have brought us to this point

Some knew about the nomination but it was news to many of them. As a whole they were genuinely surprised and happy to see that I had received a Grammy nomination.
We took a few minutes to discuss it in class and I answered questions about the process and if things would be different going forward.

Are you coming back next semester?
Will you be on television?
Why didn’t you tell us you were famous?
Will your name be on the final exam as a question? (LOL)

All kidding aside, I was able to incorporate this moment by discussing fame and celebrity in relationship to major jazz icons and how perceptions and image change over time (Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman et al). The students were engaged, the intellectual curiosity meter in the room moved up significantly and we were able to compare and contrast pop artists that they were familiar with.
It was a nice exchange with young people who aren’t in the business but interested to know how it works.

The congratulations continue to come in from across the country. I am humbled and grateful to receive them from everyone.

2010!

Posted on : 06-12-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Music

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2010 has been an incredible year for The Latin Jazz Quintet and Patois Records on a multitude of levels.

We are so proud of “Muziek” by the VW Bros. as it is music of the highest caliber that has been warmly received by all that have heard the CD. Amikaeyla and Trelawny Rose signed with the label  and we be releasing their tribute to Eva Cassidy “To Eva With Love” and solo CDs on both ladies in 2011 and 2012.

I had the honor of being selected in the 2010 Downbeat “Critics Poll’ and “Readers Poll” in the trombone category.

Being nominated for a Grammy however is an out of body experience for me. I have been a professional musician for more then 40 years (at least that’s what my union card says) and I am still processing the impact of last Wednesdays news. Hundreds of congratulatory e-mails (thanks to all of you), phone calls and just all around good vibes. Nice ride!!!!!

I will be blogging to keep you up to date all the way trough the awards ceremony and beyond so we can all experience the coolness of the moment .

Upward and onward!!!!!

Latin Side of Duke Ellington Part 1

Posted on : 01-10-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Music

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Original post- Friday, October 1, 2010 at 3:45pm

Musical exchange between African-American, Caribbean, and South American musicians has been a cornerstone of jazz since it’s inception. Jazz came to life in New Orleans during the early 1900s, but only with the help of Cuban music. Pianist Jelly Roll Morton often referred to the essential “Spanish Tinge” that made jazz complete, and he showed it in his compositions through a specific left hand figure, the habanera. Puerto Rican musicians filled the ranks of Puente and Machito’s fiery Afro-Cuban big bands, building the now legendary Palladium sound; at the same time, some of those musicians found their way into Duke Ellington’s band. Trumpet player Fats Navarro, a Cuban born trumpet player, burned his way through a short but memorable life during the bebop era. Numerous Brazilian and Puerto Rican percussionists fueled the heavy grooves of fusion bands during the seventies, giving the music a “world jazz” sound. At every turn of jazz’s evolution, Latin music and musicians helped build the style into the major art form that we know today. In most cases though, Latin culture wasn’t the focus, it was just a piece of the bigger puzzle, so the essential connection to Latin music generally goes unnoticed. (Chip Boaz 2010)

There has always been a synergy in the music of the Americas that pushes it and us forward.

Duke Ellington’s music is a perfect example of blending elements, structures and musicians from seemingly disparate styles that represents all of us as a whole. Ellington always said that </span><span>“I am the world’s greatest listener”. “The Latin Side of Duke Ellington” is our vision of looking at the music styles of the time that influenced Duke, Juan Tizol, Billy Strayhorn and Mercer Ellington from a Latin-jazz point of view. It is an interesting back and forth as one can see how so many musicians from the Caribbean and South America (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chucho Valdes et al) were influenced and turn influenced us. Our hope is that we can present this program of music to audiences across the country and internationally.

“JAZZ CANNOT BE LIMITED BY DEFINITIONS OR BY RULES.  JAZZ IS, ABOVE ALL, A TOTAL FREEDOM TO EXPRESS ONESELF.”(Duke Ellington)

Upward and onward!!

Wayne

Celebrating Coltrane

Posted on : 01-10-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Music

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Original post – Friday, October 1, 2010 at 3:58pm

Hi all,

I recently had the great honor and privilege of performing at the 33rd Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert at Northeastern University with Anthony Brown and the Asian American Orchestra. It is the world’s oldest annual performance tribute to the jazz legend. This years festival spanned the month of September with events celebrating the silver anniversary (25 years) of JCMC being located at Northeastern University, where it is based in the Department of African American Studies.

The group was invited to perform our latest recording, a re-interpretation of the classic Coltrane recordings “India” and “Africa”. It was a tremendous experience to be around so many people who had heard John Coltrane perform live, had so many wonderful stories to share about being in his presence and how he had changed their lives.

The lineup of the Asian American Orchestra includes the following musicians: Anthony Brown (drumset, percussion, conductor), Mark Izu (bass, sheng [Chinese mouth organ]), Masaru Koga (soprano & tenor sax, shakuhachi [Japanese bamboo flute]), Melecio Magdaluyo (alto, tenor, & soprano sax), Marcia Miget (soprano, alto, & tenor sax, flute), Kenneth Nash(African percussion), Steve Oda (sarod [North Indian lute]), Dana Pandey (tabla [North Indian drums]), Glen Pearson (piano), Geechi Taylor (trumpet, fluegelhorn), and myself on trombone.

John Coltrane inspired many, no matter the community or culture, to achieve musical, spiritual, and humanitarian heights never thought possible.

Not only was I able to take in the essence of Coltrane on my visit to Boston, but also got to hang with a few of my favorite folks like Ann Braithwaite and Rhiannon. Cant wait to go back for another visit!

Best wishes,

Wayne

Day Three in the studio

Posted on : 19-08-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Life, Music

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Original post – Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 8:36am

This was a relaxing fun day of ideas and good energy. We recorded three more tracks in a leisurely fashion and started doing cleanup work and taking inventory. We’ve have done 10 tracks in total that sound great and that we are very proud of. Looking forward to sharing them with all of you.

One of my goals on this project was to have as much of the members personalities on the CD. So we have the guys singing on 3 different songs. To put us in the mood and the proper artistic frame of mind Paul V.W. warmed up by singing the Dutch national anthem!! All kidding aside we knocked out a canto for Yemaya, a tribute to Bebo Valdes and a swinging coro for a cha-cha.

We wrapped up these sessions with two trombone arrangements for “The Peanut Vendor” and a funky timba style song “Todo Y Mas”. Our guests are Dave Martell, Natalie and Jeff Cressman. The cats played and soloed beautifully and most importantly we had fun!!!

With this phase done we are going to take a week or so off before getting back to work for the finishing touches.

In the words of Billy Strayhorn,” Ever upward and onward!!!”

Wayne

Day Two recording new Latin Jazz Quintet Album

Posted on : 18-08-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Music

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Original post – Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Traffic had it’s way with our best laid plans for a noon start with a accident on Highway 17 that kept Murray from arriving till 1:30P.M. (He spentclose 2 and a half hours in the car trying to get to the studio)

Once Murray arrived and had a chance to decompress from his adventure, we started the day off with Bobi Céspedes recording a son/timba version of the Moises Simon classic “El Manisero” (“The Peanut Vendor”). Bobi Céspedes possesses one of the most poised, and elegant voices in the world. Sheis a internationally renown singer,percussionist, and highly respected Yoruba-Lucumi priestess. Bobi delivered a beautiful rendition of the lyrics and more then adds to the legacy of the great artists (LouisArmstrong Stan Kenton et al) that have covered this timeless song. I am sure all will enjoy this.

“El Manisero” is a Cuban song based on a street-seller’s cry known as a pregon. It is possibly the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician and has been recorded more than 160 times, sold over a million copies of the sheet music, and was the first million-selling 78rpm of Cuban music. (See wikipedia for more info) wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peanut_Vendor

Today is vocal day and Kenny Washington is next on deck. Kenny joined us on ¡Bien Bien! and knocked everybody out with his interpretation and vocals cat on “Freedom Jazz Dance”. Kenny shares his talents with us again on Juan Tizol’s “Perdido” and tore it up with great solos and big soul!!! The cats played beautifully on both songs.

“Perdido” was first recorded on December 3, 1941 by Duke Ellington. (The lyrics were written by Ervin Drake and Hans Lengsfelder)

“Perdido” was not usually sung with the Ellington band, the exception being with Ella Fitzgerald on her 1957 album “Ella Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook”. The song refers tothe resort town of Perdido in the Florida Keys.

All the members ofthe quintet have done a lot of recording on many projects over the years but every time you record there is unexpected joy along with the challenges. After a dinner break we tracked a new song of mine “Todo Y Mas” that we haven’t performed live yet. It was very demanding from a mental and physical stand point but well worth the hard work. The thing Ilike about the challenges is that if you embrace them, you learn more and they make you a better musician. The band swings hard and funky on this one!!!!

Tomorrow we have a couple of more songs to do. The cats in the band will once again thrill us all with their vocal chops. We have several coros to sing on that will set the pace for the CD and modern music!!!

I am especially looking forward to our trombone extravaganza on Wednesday evening with Dave Martell, Jeff Cressman and Natalie Cressman (aka “The Trombone Goddess”). A whole lot a slidin’goin on!!

Hasta tomorrow,

Wayne

Day One recording the new “Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet”

Posted on : 17-08-2010 | By : Wayne Wallace | In : Life, Music

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Original post -Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 10:17pm

I love being insituations that allow for creativity to flow. That iswhy I appreciate working with Paul van Wageningen, David Belove, Michael Spiro, Murray Low and Gary Mankin on recording projects.They all have “big ears” and are intensely committed to making great music. We started working onthe new “Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet” recording yesterday at Open Path Recording Studio in San Jose yesterday and had a ball. Our las trecording ¡Bien Bien! was well received by radio and music fans a like.It stayed on the radio charts for 39 weeks and is still doing well in sales. However with success comes the challenge of moving forward and remaining true to one’s self artistically.

Our goal with this new recording is to capture the energy and nuances the band projects inlive concerts so that the listener can find something new upon repeated listening of the songs. With this in mind we have taken more of an experimental approach in the studio ala the Beatles “White Album”. We found that even after rehearsing the songs we found new and exciting ways to develop ideas within them and spent the day shaping the new ideas spontaneously.

Today we will be recording with two of our guest vocal artists, Bobi Céspedes and Kenny Washington.

Looking forward to their energy and talent being present in the studio. More to come tomorrow!!

Musically yours,

Wayne Wallace