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Bennie Wallace has long had his own unique style, combining together the raspy tone of Ben Webster with the frequent wide interval jumps of Eric Dolphy. He has an explorative style that sound-wise looks back toward the swing era. Wallace started on clarinet when he was 12 and a few years later switched to tenor. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1968, and in 1971 moved to New York, where he debuted with Monty Alexander. Wallace gigged with Sheila Jordan, played with many avant-garde musicians, was in George Gruntz's Concert Jazz Band in 1979, and led his own trio/quartet on and off throughout the 1970s and '80s. He recorded frequently prior to 1985 for Enja, but his mid- to late-'80s Blue Note recordings are more memorable, for they find him infusing his appealing sound with touches of New Orleans R&B and a healthy dose of humor. In the '90s, Wallace began writing music for films, including White Men Can't Jump. He also stayed active on the jazz scene, releasing Old Songs in 1993 on JVC, Talk of the Town also in 1993 on Enja, and Someone to Watch Over Me in 1999 on Enja. In 2002 Wallace scored critical success with Moodsville and followed it up with the release of In Berlin, a recording of a 1999 appearance at the Berlin Jazz Festival. Since that time, Wallace has released studio albums including The Nearness of You in 2004 and the Coleman Hawkins-themed Disorder at the Border in 2007. ~ Scott Yanow
Bennie Lee Wallace Jnr.
18 November 1946 in Chattanooga, TN
'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s