Meet Charles Wallace — the band
■ You’re going to be seeing jazz listings around town for Charles Wallace and figure he’s some classic soloist around here a la Roger Humphries or Kenny Blake.
He’s not. In fact, no one named Charles Wallace will be on stage.
The local jazz ensemble — guitarist Ethan Winograd, bassist Justin Brown, drummer Jay Matula, organist Tim Tucker, trumpeter Kyle Simpson and saxophonist Bob Wenzel — merely use the name of a character, Charles Wallace Murry, from the Madeleine L’Engle children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time.”
“He has some ESP and time traveling skills,” says Mr. Winograd, “which are the sort of things we aim for when we try to get the whole group to lift off, improvisationally speaking.”
Beyond that, he says, “as a kid, I always thought it was funny when people would say: ‘Oh, Jethro Tull, he’s awesome.’ That never seems to happen in jazz, which can appear sometimes to be a very ego-driven pursuit, with a focus on soloists. We try to focus more collaborative improvisation.”
The group, which is releasing its debut album, “Mariposa,” was formed with members of the Jazz Vultures, Watershed 5tet and Active Ingredient, among others, to work out organ funk grooves, classic bebop and Dutch free jazz.
“This is a band that can play straight-ahead jazz for a theater crowd or private party, or really stretch out in a performance setting,” says Mr. Winograd, who was an early member of Rusted Root. “Everyone listens well, and that allows us to stretch out together, which is the fun part. The setting dictates how tightly we hold it together.”
The seven-song release features four originals and a cover of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” while also taking a left turn toward Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” and Radiohead’s “Nude.”
“The standard jazz canon is comprised of a lot of tunes that were popular in the generation when jazz took off, but I grew up in the ’70s listening to rock ’n’ roll,” Mr. Winograd says. “So ‘Pennies From Heaven’ didn’t mean [anything] to me. So I really struggled with learning the tunes. When I heard Bill Frisell’s version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Just Like a Woman’ it hit me that we could take the tunes that we grew up with, or tunes we were digging today, and present them in a jazz format so we could improvise on them.”
The release show is at 8 p.m. Saturday at Bike Heaven, RJ Casey Industrial Park, North Side, with Eric Vermillion. Donation is $5. Info: www.charleswallacemusic.com.