The School of Music at UW–Madison has named Johannes Wallmann director of jazz studies beginning in the fall of 2012.
Selected following a national search, Wallmann brings extensive performing experience in styles as diverse as mainstream jazz and electric fusion, American spirituals, Cantonese pop music and 20th century classical music. He will hold the John and Carolyn Peterson Chair in Jazz Studies, named for an endowment gift from John Peterson, who with his late wife Carolyn has been a long-time supporter of the arts — and particularly music — in Madison.
Wallmann was born in Germany and raised on Canada’s Vancouver Island, where he studied classical piano and guitar. He studied jazz piano and composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, receiving a bachelor’s degree there, and at New York University, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees. He has performed or recorded with the Dennis Mitcheltree Quartet, the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble, the American Music Group and the Billings Symphony Orhcestra, and with top-tier jazz musicians on both coasts.
As band leader, he has recorded four critically acclaimed CDs, including “The Johannes Wallmann Quartet” (1997); “Alphabeticity” (2003); “Minor Prophets” (2007); and “The Coasts” (2010), which features his Brasstet of Ralph Alessi, trumpet; Josh Roseman, trombone; Marcus Rojas, tuba; Sean Conly, bass; and Fred Kennedy, drums, performing a program of original compositions.
After teaching jazz piano, improvisation and music theory at New York University and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Wallmann relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007 to become the director of jazz studies at California State University East Bay. There he introduced and developed comprehensive curricula for jazz theory and applied jazz, added six new small-group ensembles to the student jazz offerings, established a series of workshops and master classes with guest artists, and produced two CDs of student ensembles.
At the School of Music, Wallmann will assume direction of the jazz performance program and the jazz writing program. In addition, he plans to teach a spring-semester course in “Fundamentals of Jazz and Improvisation” designed especially for music education majors. He will make himself accessible to the greater Madison jazz community, meet K-12 music educators as time permits, and enhance the profile of the UW Jazz Orchestra with concerts both on campus and in school- and community-based venues elsewhere in Wisconsin. The Jazz Orchestra is scheduled to perform under Wallmann’s direction on November 28 and May 2 in Mills Hall.
According to Professor of Saxophone Les Thimmig, who teaches jazz and was a member of the search committee, Wallmann is “a splendid pianist and a very fine all-around musician whose presence will make many things possible.”
For his part, Wallmann says “I am grateful for the warm welcome I have received from the accomplished faculty of UW–Madison’s School of Music. Over the last few months, it has become apparent to me that there is a deep commitment throughout the university’s music community to rebuilding a comprehensive jazz curriculum. There are a lot of great building blocks in place already, and I am just thrilled at the opportunity to work with the students, faculty and community in Madison.”