JOHN BRUCE WALLACE
John Bruce Wallace is a free jazz solo performer interested in freely improvised music with a focus on generating extended sound statements within the options afforded through solo performance. His approach incorporates totally improvised sound expressions with emphasis on deconstruction of structure and pattern, upon which one can become comfortable and rely on during a performance, while generating a narrative of the moment. He is interested in the textural aspects of the sounds, in the physical dimensioning of each note, of the geometric quality of the sounds, as-well-as being concerned with the timbre of every note and passage, and with the rhythmic structure of the relationship of each note to its neighbors within the musical neighborhood. Compositions are improvised extemporaneously on solo electric guitar without the use of tape, tape dubbing, computers or synthesizers. The sounds are generated from the mind through the hands and fingers. The idea is to utilize a few basic tones and then present relational possibilities inherent in those tones. The improvised compositions often incorporate sonorous multi-tonal qualities, dense, interwoven passages embellished with harmonic and micro-tonal sound statements, or silence further defined by irregular syntaxed rhythms and primitive beats. These extempore compositions incorporate complex musical riddles wherein are displayed the qualities of multiple instrument arrangements, incorporating voicings that bring to mind horns, sax, chimes, cello and strings, and percussion as well as various guitar timbres: All in the service of exploring, exposing, exhuming, and exploding the human GEIST.
acclaim includes: "Wallace is one of those rare exceptions (Charles S.
Russell, EAR MAGAZINE, New York, NY). "[He
An aggressive, wailing guitar sound—astonishing and extremely
individual—that one has never heard before (Grigory Valov,
Arkhangel'sk, Russia). "Wallace
improvised pieces with many harmonics, with inconsistent rhythms over
changes" (Philippe Renaud, NOTES, Nantes,
playing is a lot less predictable than that of many guitar warriors,
best of it has a savage beauty that Eddie
Van Halen couldn't achieve with
six months of overdubs" (Mark Jenkins,
Washington City Paper,
"His sizzling electric distortion...thick and saturated tone captures a
kind of steel industrial sound, gently relating to the development of
situation, and technological society on which he comments, and to the
issues faced by modern development. Wallace’s music comes out
giant question with no apparent answer...tapping the human
post pro-harmonic feedback" (LaDonna
Smith, in the improvisor;
vol. XI, Birmingham, Alabama). "He invented a new technique of playing
while continuously changing the
pitch of his electric guitar" (Svetlana Korel'skaya, ARKHANGEL'SK,
"[A] composer working to create a new voice
for the electric guitar...creating a new approach to the instrument" (Tim
Opus Novus, Bradyworks, Codes d'Access, Montreal, Quebec, Canada). "The
music is clearly developed, powerful, and expressive (Rick Petrie, WITR
"Really great improvisation for guitar' (Dwight
Loop, Earwaves Radio Network, KSFR
Radio, Santa Fe, NM).
He has shared performance billings with: Tim Hodgkinson, Evan Ziporyn, John King, Vladimir Tarasov, ZGA, Enver Izmailov, Burhan Ocal and Jazz Band Arkhangel'sk. Tours have included festivals in Russia and Lithuania, where he was awarded fourth place at the Vilnius Jazz Festival. His music was invited for performance consideration at the American Pavilion during the 1991 São Paulo Art Biennial, in São Paulo, Brazil.
He has recorded and released seven albums of extended sound statements.In the early 1990's John became afflicted with Meniere's Disease which presented unique challenges to performances and recording, the resolution of these allowed an expansion of thought as to how sound production was perceived in terms of amplification and microphone placement. In 2010 his right hand was severely mangled by a dog bite, again presenting unique challenges for John since his playing style incorporates use of fingers, pick, and various other sections of the right hand in bringing forth the tones he prefers.
Perspectives from Life:
John exhibited an affinity for the performing arts at an early age, first in acting, playing the lead roles in grade school plays, later he expanded his interests to include singing solo for his grade school classmates. By high school John had found “the Guitar” and would perform almost daily during summers on his family’s front porch for the traffic passing by. Bands formed during this time were all short lived usually breaking up due to disagreements over the musical direction that the group members wanted to go in. Whereas, the musical influences of the other band members included the Ventures, the Beatles, Paul Reeve and the Raiders, and other Main Stream 60’s Rock, John’s early influences included Sun Ra, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Jimi Hendrix. After high school, John moved to Portland, Maine, to pursue music. He started several groups which all failed due to musical differences, although one failed after the band’s equipment was stolen. However, during this time he would fill in on guitar for a number of traveling bands that were performing in night clubs in Portland. He was also at this time becoming more influenced by Experiential Rock and Jazz. During this time John met and became friends with Count Basie and several members of the Electric Light Orchestra (Wilfred Gibson (violin), Colin Walker (cello), Mike Edwards (cello)). Lee Crabtree of the Fugs and Holy Modal Rounders was a friend shortly before his untimely death, as was Bill Chinnock.
Invited upon a late night meeting in a Dunkin Donuts in Portland Maine by ABC Vice-President for Late Night Programming Robert Shanks (producer of ABC’s Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert) to come to New York, John embarked on the next phase of his musical saga. Six months after their meeting John arrived at ABC and was introduced to Shep Gordon of Alive Enterprises (Management for Alice Cooper). As is the norm in the World of Rock Ascension, much time was spent ‘wearing out one’s pants from the outside in’ bench sitting for auditions and interview appointments, where looks and attitude carry more weight than talent. The payment of dues was on. During this time John also met Elizabeth Gilbert of Columbia Records’ John Hammond’s office. Interesting adventures from this association included being sent to audition for the position of lead guitar for Bruce Springsteen and being the guitarist in a short lived jazz group fronted by Lewis MacMillan from Lionel Hampton’s organization. The Springsteen audition, arranged as a debt repayment due to John Hammond’s influence in Springsteen’s career, did not happen as Mike Appeal (Springsteen’s manager at the time) dismissed John out of hand saying that there was “room for only One Star in the band”. These and similar life experiences, encountered while participating in the popular music business with an inside perspective greatly disillusioned John to the belief that the importance of the quality of talent counted as a value considered in the priorities regarded as essential by A&R (Artists and Repertory) executives to achieving ‘Fame and Fortune’ as a rock star, as-well-as exemplifying the tremendous shallowness of the whole popular culture within our society. This moved him to look more closely at jazz and ‘free jazz’ as practiced in Europe, by established artists such as Ornatte Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Derek Bailey, and by certain young artists at the time beginning to work in Alphabet-city on New York’s lower East side, some of whom he has since shared performance billings with; music expressions that place great value on quality of talent, originality, and uniqueness, as the appropriate voice for his sound statements. A brief association with David Amram further influenced John’s examination of contemporary classical music as an ingredient in the musical porridge in his head. Professional experience at the time came from involvement as a Jazz Guitarist for a band fronted by Lewis MacMillan, noted Jazz Historian, New York, New York; Recording Consultant to George Bookhard Management, New York; and Talent Scout to Elizabeth Gilbert, Administrative Assistant to John Hammond, Columbia Records, New York. John also renewed the acquaintance with Count Basie and met Helen Humes. Also an evening at Andy Warhol’s Factory and regular evenings at CBGBs, as well as the fabled Cedar Tavern and St. Mark’s in the East Village, where John engaged in the discussions of the moment, all proved most educational. Regulars met there included Allen Ginsberg. Adventures crossed paths with the Ramones, Blondie, Laurie Spiegel, and Meredith Monk.
John finds supplemental expression through painting and computer generated art. The need to express graphically traces back to when he was in grade school. As with his musical sound statements the concern is with the human condition and how we find ourselves in an alienating environment. Figurative images have explored the emotional aspects of the human experience, painted in oil done in a style that incorporated the use of his fingers in lieu of brushes; abstract images have explored the definition of the surface, as–well-as color. He has exhibited in several shows in New York City and Washington, DC, as-well-as, shows in Chicago, Minneapolis, Missouri, Maryland, Maine, and Virginia, with positive reviews in the local art-press. Of his paintings and graphics it has been said: Like El Greco, Picasso and deKooning he paints distorted figures that inhabit mysterious, bleak, and alienating environments. Some of his figures seem to be working; others huddle together or stand in contorted postures. He is like Van Gogh and Monet in paint application. His vivid colors, blacks, and whites charge the work with a deep emotional impact. Since he uses up to twenty layers of color, there is an extreme tension between the layers of underpainting and a malaise in surface tone as well as a uniquely structured surface.”[He] produces harsh, sometimes frightening compositions in violent colors, evoking an atmosphere of alienation which bespeaks the human dilemma with painful clarity” (Dennis Wepman, “The Human Dilemma” in Manhattan Arts, March 1988).
John holds a BA in Philosophy Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Maine and a BS in Information Systems Management Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maryland University College. He was a National Student Exchange participant at the University of Oregon, and has a Certificate in Legal Studies from Antioch School of Law. His philosophy background combines focus on both Phenomenology and Analytic Philosophy. He has conducted his continued philosophical interests within a focus that considers examining philosophical questions from both perspectives. Philosophers of interest include: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Wittgenstein, Geach, P. Strawson, Fodor, Davidson, Block, Andy Clark, Searle, Carruthers, Tye, and Boden. He is interested in issues in the Philosophy of Mind, Consciousness, Philosophy of Psychology, The Self, Thought, Creativity, Imagination, Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), Epistemology, Logic, Perception, and Time. He has continued to read and do research in these areas. Recent areas of attention have focused on issues that involve consciousness, quantum physics, and cognitive science including: questioning the notion of time-bundling with regard to neuronal firings as correlates of consciousness and the adequacy of modularity of mind theories in view of recent research that has shown that there is not a direct correlate of mental activity, neuronal firings within a specific area of the brain, with specific thought, when observation has been MIR verified for both male and female test cases. The fact that these studies display a disjunctive neuronal firing pattern that does not appear to be modular situated raises serious questions regarding the notion of modularity as being basic to brain functionality, as specified in Evolutionary Psychology Theories of Mind, or as being the prime basis for a Philosophy of Mind as one reading of Fodor can imply. These investigations have also raised questions regarding the correctness of Representation Theories and memory storage of tokens. Other discussions have revolved around the issue of the non-locality of consciousness, when one considers the essentialness of information as an element of Phenomenal-consciousness and the difficulties with the localization of information. Currently John has been working on a manuscript examining the role of Imagination as the foundation for thought, drawing on theories of creativity and improvisation through spontaneous thought expression. He has also recently been focusing on the issue of Artificial Intelligence and the notion that Access Consciousness, as flushed out by Ned Block, might serve as a foundation for ascribing a form of consciousness, emphasizing the functional process of making information available to the central control process (executive program) module, unique from human consciousness, to AI. His undergraduate senior thesis on Solipsism, Consciousness, and Philosophy of Mind was published by Rowman & Littlefield as a 136 page monograph in Philosophy titled: Genesis: Involvement: Generation. “[Genesis] deals with the philosophical issues concerning the problems of solipsism: the search for the 'self' and its relation to the world. Addressing such traditional questions as the nature of epistemological certainty, metaphysics, and the adequacy of logic and science as foundations of thought, the author expands his investigation to include an examination of the individual and the social sciences. The author draws upon the thought of various philosophers, contending that both metaphysical and epistemological solipsism are faulty notions seeded in an equally faulty endeavor 'The Quest for Certainty', concluding that it is necessary to return to the Socratic maxim, 'Know Thyself', as a pluralistic field of consciousness.” (Review at Amazon.com) Other publications include: “Bioterrorism: Anthrax, Sarin, and Smallpox What Can Be Done”, Paper on the prospects of disaster recovery in the event of a bioterrorism attack, to be reprinted as a chapter in an ICFAI anthology tentatively titled Bioterrorism forthcoming, and “Can Access Consciousness Qualify as Computer Consciousness? Or, So What If My Computer Can't Cry!”, Philosophy paper on ascribing Access Consciousness, as presented by Ned Block, to Artificial Intelligence, accepted for poster presentation at Toward a Science of Consciousness Conference 2009 (TSC) in Hong Kong, the Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona.
Additional occupations and life experiences have included; work as a Mental Health Worker attending to the developmentally disabled in a state institution, provided first hand observation of the effects of various illnesses and adverse conditions upon the mind and the development of consciousness in each of those individuals in particular and as applied to the notion of what constitutes a person in general; twenty-five plus years of experience in the legal profession as a Paralegal in a general practice firm where he managed the firm’s Social Security Denial Appeals cases; Legal Analyst for the Justice Department’s Naval Shipyard asbestos cases defense; Chief Paralegal and Information coordinator for an ERISA law firm; Technical Trainer with Lockheed Martin on the Justice Department’s Mega 3 Litigation Support contract; work in auto parts and tobacco warehouses; textile factory; funeral home; day-laborer; jewelry salesman; jewelry engraver; watch repairman; museum assistant in the Curatorial Department at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; political campaign worker; art organization board director and advisor; producer of record demos; sound technician; and street urchin. John has published poems in poetry rags in Maine, Texas, and New York, as-well-as a volume titled Gleanings for Monday. He shares with the late Columbia Records Producer and Jazz impresario John Hammond, Sr. the distinction of being the subject of a volume of poems, titled John Poems, by the former New York and Nashville poet El Gilbert.