Widely recognised as a seminal figure in world jazz, Byron Wallen is constantly travelling the world recording, teaching and performing. He has been playing trumpet in various contexts, live and on record, alongside legendary musicians such as George Benson, Andrew Hill, Chaka Khan, Ingrid Laubrock, Hugh Masekela, Courtney Pine, Mulatu Astatke, Red Snapper, Lonnie Liston Smith, Style Council, Jack Dejohnette, Jean Toussaint, Cleveland Watkiss and King Sunny Ade. He has visited East Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Indonesia and Belize (his parents’ homeland). On tour Wallen often works with local musicians, developing new ideas for his performances and compositions.
With his current band Byron Wallen’s Four Corners, he is a frequent guest at UK and international Jazz venues and festivals. Their tour to Lithuania in 2018 with guest artist ESKA was covered on Lithuanian radio and TV. This year, after the release of the latest album Portrait: Reflections on Belonging, Byron Wallen’s Four Corners have been shortlisted for the Jazz Ensemble of the Year for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2020.
Wallen is an acclaimed writer and producer whose original scores have been commissioned by the Science Museum; PRS, the BBC, Jerwood Foundation, Southbank Centre, National Theatre, Arts Council, FIFA and Sage Gateshead. He has also created soundscapes for Universal Pictures, Warner Bros and Game of Thrones. His compositions include Live, with Sheron Wray’s dance company, Langston Hughes Suite, The Trumpet Kings, and Tarot Suite, an extended work of 22 movements, written for a 10-piece band. In 2003, Wallen won the BBC’s Innovation In Jazz award for his third album Indigo. For his fourth album, Meeting Ground, featuring Gnawa master musician Boujemma Boubul, he received nominations for Best Band and Best Album in the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards and Best Jazz Act in the 2007 MOBO Awards.
In the UK and during his overseas tours, Wallen has taught in schools, colleges and universities, and given workshops and specialist jazz courses; he lectures in jazz composition and history of jazz at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where he teaches jazz trumpet and leads a selection of combos. He is also member of the jazz faculty at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, as well as the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy.
Wallen’s performing, composing and teaching skills combine to make him a leading figure among the creative jazz musicians in the UK. In 2017, Wallen received the coveted Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists.