The pianist and composer celebrates a new album recorded with a quintet of NYC collaborators. Info
Since joining the music faculty at UW-Madison in 2012, jazz pianist and composer Johannes Wallmann has forged new collaborations with musicians in Madison and Milwaukee, and not just those within the academic music world, including on last year's conceptually ambitious album Love Wins. He’s also maintained the artistic relationships he developed during a long stint in New York City's jazz scene. Like 2015's The Town Musicians, the just-released album Day And Night finds Wallmann and a group of NYC-based musicians playing largely in a quintet setting on spacious and conversational pieces. There's still a Midwestern connection here—the album is on Shifting Paradigm Records, a Minneapolis-based label that has also put out music from several Madison- and Milwaukee-based artists.
Tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens (who also played on The Town Musicians and Love Wins), drummer Colin Stranahan, bassist Matt Pavolka, and trumpeter Brian Lynch help Wallmann realize a subtly ambitious batch of 11 compositions on Day And Night. While it starts with an original, the ominously titled "Press Briefing" (Donald Trump's insane press-conference tantrums actually inspired the track's rising action and barbed instrumental exchanges), this record focuses more than Wallmann's other recent records on the work of other composers. The album draws its title from Cole Porter's "Night And Day," which the quintet explores here with some rhythmic twists that can keep a listener just slightly off-balance. "Think Of One," the first of two Thelonious Monk tunes on the album, takes on a gently undulating feel here, but still has some of the playful dissonance you'd expect from anything to do with Monk. The standout track here, though, might be the quintet's version of Duke Ellington's "Solitude," which centers on an expansive piano performance from Wallmann and some wonderfully tender bowed passages from Pavolka. Wallmann plays this show to celebrate the album's release, in a quintet of Wisconsin-based musicians: Trumpeter Russ Johnson, bassist Nick Moran, drummer Devin Drobka, and saxophone player Tony Barba. —Scott Gordon