Morgan Wallace @JazznewbloodALIVE2021 @EFGLJF @WoolwichWorks
Meet Morgan Wallace in our #jazznewbloodALIVE2021 interview series.
Tell us a bit more about your background growing up in Devon. How is the jazz scene there?
Growing up in Devon was lovely. I really value time outside, especially as a way to clear my head, and after moving to London I realised how much of the landscape I took for granted.
I played in my school jazz band and the Devon youth Jazz orchestra, but most musical experiences I had in Devon were playing with friends in my village. They weren’t necessarily jazz musicians, they had more of a folk background, but the feeling is the same. Multiple people trying to create something together and listening to each other. We played the music in the local church too.
Are there many female instrumentalists in the Devon Jazz scene?
Yes, my saxophone teacher in college ! I went to Exeter college for sixth form and learnt sax with Roz Harding. Roz is an amazing musician and I’d encourage everyone to go see one of her gigs when she’s next in London.
You started out with Clarinet, what made you change to the saxophone?
My grandad played saxophone in the valleys in Wales (where he grew up). He kept his alto in the attic and when we went to visit my grandparents he would let me play it. I always felt more at home on sax than on clarinet. One time he said that I could take it home with me and after that the switch was pretty quick. I found it easier to express myself on (and I also liked being much louder)
How did you find the Tomorrow´s Warriors?
I went on a summer school (NYJC), which was the first time I properly met musicians outside of Devon. I met a few people from London on that summer school and they all talked about warriors. All the people on that summer school were such great musicians, and playing with them felt exciting in a way I hadn’t had before. I didn’t want to lose that, so when I got home I googled warriors and sent them about a million emails. When September hit I started getting the train up from Exeter to London every weekend to go to warriors. I started in Binker’s class and thought it was the best thing I’d ever been to. It was a lot getting the train up each weekend but I loved it.
How is your process when composing new music? What inspires you?
I always compose on piano. I’ve never been able to write harmony and melodies separately; so I need both hands to let me write them at the same time.
My piano playing needs a lot of work but I always start a composition out as two lines. I normally don’t put it onto sax until the very end. For me it’s about the tune not what I’m playing it on.
I’m inspired by anything new. If something throws me off my usual trains of thought that inspires me. That could be music or a book or anything.
Or sometimes I’m not inspired at all and I just write really loud music because I’m in a bad mood.
What are you listening at the moment?
I have been loving the Black Midi album Cavalcade which came out this year. Especially ‘John L’ the first track. Also Bill Evans conversations with myself, I always go back to that record.
And little simz new album is amazing !
Tell us about your performance at JazznewbloodALIVE and the musicians playing with you.
I will be playing my own compositions , some which I debuted last year in the online showcase plus some new material . I’ll be playing with Scottie Thompson’s band; it’s been great to meet Scottie and hear my music played from a different perspective. It’s given a different life to the tunes and I always love playing them with new people !