Byron Wallen Shabaka Hutchings
“I have always been captivated by music that has been written by people in the midst of a spiritual experience or rite of passage within their society. The music has a rich, vital element to it and is often passed on via an oral tradition. It is owned by the society and is part of their folklore. The music when reinterpreted then has new elements that reflect what is happening at the time and is energised with the new elements of the culture. This is where folk meets jazz and carnival. My piece is a duet written for Shabaka Hutchings and myself that explores this relationship in sound and melody.”Byron Wallen
Raised in a musical environment, Byron Wallen started learning his first instrument, piano, at an early age. He then went on to study trumpet with Jimmy Owens, Donald Byrd and Jon Faddis, in New York.
By the late 90s his work was receiving world wide attention and he could be heard performing with a myriad of artists such as David Murray, Andrew Hill, Butch Morris, Ralph Moore, Billy Higgins, Eddie Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Herlin Riley, Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, William Orbit, Toumani Diabate, Brice Wassy, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ronnie Laws and Chaka Khan. His trumpet has also appeared alongside African pioneers such as Hugh Masekela, Manu Dibango and Amampondo.
The past few years have seen Byron perform with World Music artists Baaba Maal and Cheikh-Lo and a host of jazz legends including Bobby McFerrin, Sam Rivers, and Jack DeJohnette. He has also been working with Gregory Isaacs, Ken Boothe and Mikey Spice – pioneers of the reggae world.
Shabaka Hutchings was born in England and raised in Barbados – where he began his musical journey. There he played in local calypso bands, classical ensembles and various jazz groups. In 2003 he was awarded a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he completed a degree in classical clarinet. Shabaka has shared the stage with many top jazz musicians and ensembles, including Jack de Johnette, Charlie Haden, the trip-hop group Red Snapper, and Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA orchestra at the Barbican Centre. He is part of the London community of younger jazz musicians, and has recorded and performed in numerous ensembles. In 2010, Shabaka was named BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist.
His latest project is the group Sons of Kemet, with Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner on drums, and Oren Marshall on tuba. This group explores Shabaka’s Caribbean heritage.