Double Vision: Wayne Wallace’s Latin Jazz Quintet

One of two IU faculty members to be nominated for a Grammy this year, Wallace is a committed educator and a proponent of the continued relevance of Latin jazz.

The cover for Wayne Wallace's Latin Jazz Jazz Latin CD

Photo: album cover art

Wallace's latest CD has been nominated in the Grammys' recently-restored Latin jazz category.

Trombonist and jazz educator Wayne Wallace has had a busy year, moving from California to join the Indiana University jazz faculty and picking up his sixth Grammy nomination, this time for the CD Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin. He describes his recent way of life as “bi-geographical.”

A Sense Of Community

That sense of duality informs the title of his CD, which features an unusual front line of flute, violin, tenor sax and trumpet on many of its numbers, and gives a Latin twist to jazz standards such as “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” as well as highlighting Wallace’s own compositions. Wallace says the inverted title reflects the binary exchange of influences between American jazz and Latin American music.

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Wallace gained his first exposure to Latin jazz through playing in Latin bands that needed musicians who could read music. He says he was attracted to the cultural vibrancy and sense of community that he found among the artists and their audiences.

Staying Close To The Source

Wallace sees an increasingly influential role for Latin jazz in the United States, where the Latino American population continues to grow, “as long as the music stays close to the source. If the second or third generation gets too far away from that, then it’s like that movie, Multiplicity, where Michael Keaton kept cloning himself and got weaker and weaker.”

That source, fueled by a variety of rhythms and dances, is what Wallace thinks gives Latin jazz its ongoing vitality in the history of jazz. “Latin jazz has never gotten too far away from its roots,” Wallace says. “It’s always retained that connection to dancing.”

Wallace will attend the Grammy ceremonies in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26. “I’m looking forward, if nothing else, to enjoying better weather for a couple of days!” he says.

Watch Wayne Wallace’s Latin Jazz Quintet performing at Yoshi’s in San Francisco last summer at a CD release party for Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin:

David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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