Bennie Wallace

Genres: Jazz
Decades: 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


Bennie Lee Wallace Jnr., 18 November 1946, Chatanooga, Tennessee, USA. In his teens Wallace played jazz saxophone and sat in with local country and R&B bands. He studied clarinet at Tennessee University, then moved to New York in the early 70s, working with West Indian-born pianist Monty Alexander and singer Sheila Jordan. Wallace’s affinity to Ornette Coleman’s new jazz language is shown by his later neglect of the piano: he prefers to work in trios, unconfined by the piano’s tempered scales. Mostly playing tenor saxophone, his first trio comprised Glen Moore (bass) and Eddie Moore (drums), who were replaced in 1978 by Eddie Gomez and Dannie Richmond. His debut with this trio - The Fourteen Bar Blues, recorded for Enja Records in 1978 - was a revelation. Playing with a loose bravado usually heard from musicians with gospel backgrounds, he had found a way to translate Coleman’s concept to tenor, on the way picking up echoes of Eric Dolphy...

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