In The Isthmus: Making a scene

Johannes Wallmann spreads the gospel of jazz

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John and Carolyn Peterson Chair in Jazz Studies Johannes Wallman leads the UW-Madison Jazz Orchestra (Photo by Sarah Morton)

Johannes Wallmann remembers the day he found his people.

He was four hours from his home, a high school piano player with a German accent on a bus in Vancouver filled with honors band students from all over the region. The province’s largest city had a jazz radio station, and the young musicians were transfixed.

“Someone would say, ‘Is that Dexter Gordon? It sounds like Dexter Gordon,’” Wallmann recalls. “We’d try to guess who the different players were based on their sound, and then the announcer would come on and say, ‘That’s Dexter Gordon from One Flight Up,’ and you think, ‘Nobody at my high school would have known who that was.’

“But then you get to college, and the other kids who know, they are all there.”

Read more in The Isthmus