The UW-Madison jazz chair discusses two very different recordings and looming changes to higher education in Wisconsin.
Last month I briefly noted that Johannes Wallmann would be releasing two new albums in 2015, but this week I finally got the chance to catch up with Wallmann in more detail at WORT studios. A jazz pianist who came to Madison in 2012 to become UW-Madison's jazz studies chair, Wallmann recently released The Town Musicians, mostly recorded in New York City with a flowing, conversational quintet, and is about to put out Always Something, recorded with his Wisconsin-based Sweet Minute Big Band, which will play June 19 at the Isthmus Jazz Festival. (Wallmann is also playing this Saturday at The Fountain.) We talked about how these two records differ in both their format and compositional approach. Later on in the interview, we also discussed Wallmann's role in building up UW-Madison's jazz program, and Wallmann offered some frank thoughts on the proposed budget cuts and changes to tenure policies the UW System is facing: "I don't think I would have considered this job if, at the time, these threats to tenure were happening." That said, Wallmann still sees a good future ahead for jazz at UW, and has been a champion of local jazz musicians, whether UW-affiliated or not.
Thanks to Dylan Brogan for producing the segment. A shorter version aired this week on WORT's In Our Backyard news show.