Michael Wallace

saxophonist | composer | improviser


A creator and arranger of improvised and composed music, Wallace's main instrument is the tenor saxophone. The dialectical discussion between improvisation and composition is at the core of his practice.

Between 2013–2015 Wallace resided in Bergen, Norway, where he formed a quartet featuring Thomas Dahl (guitar), Petter Asbjørnsen (bass) & Øyvind Skarbø (drums). He also performed with a variety of musicians and ensembles including Ugo Santangelo, Sambando 6, Frode Grytten, Heine Bugge, Miss Tati, Fagernes Yacht Klubb, Kameleon Orkesteret, Klubb Kavaler, Vestlandske Selskabs Orkester, Norvald Dahl and Ole Amund Gjersvik.

In 2012 Wallace completed his Masters of Teaching at The University of Melbourne studying music improvisation education. The outcome of this research was the dissertation The Map is not the Territory: Reconsidering Music Improvisation Education (2012).

Wallace has been an ongoing collaborator with the Mace Francis Orchestra, for whom he has composed works and with whom he has toured Australia as a member of the ensemble. His composition Karesansui was released on, Chinese Whispers IV. Wallace has also been a member of Andrew Murray's large ensemble ATM15 and his Bird's Big Band.

In 2007 Wallace completed his Masters of Music Performance on the tenor saxophone at Monash University in Melbourne receiving first class honours. There he studied with Julien Wilson, Jamie Oehlers, and Doug de Vries. This culminated in the thesis Unifying Composition and Improvisation (2007) and a performance realised by Marc Hannaford, Sam Anning, and Ben Hendry.

Between 2003–2005 and 2008–2009 he resided in Bergen, Norway. During these periods Wallace performed with a variety of ensembles and musicians in the Bergen music world.

Wallace has worked alongside visual artist Carmel Wallace creating music for large–scale sculpture installations and filmed live performances. These projects were: the soundtrack to Flora (2014); a soundtrack to accompany the film documentation of Illuminated by Fire, Portland (screened at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Federation Square, Melbourne, as part of The Light in Winter arts festival); a commission by the Australia Council for the Arts in 2003 to write music to accompany in situ an installation of seven floating sculptures in Portland harbour titled Marine Markers.

In 2002 Wallace graduated with a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honours, majoring in composition and arranging, from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (waapa) in Perth. There he studied composition and arranging with Graeme Lyall and Graeme Collier; saxophone with Roger Garrood; and jazz improvisation with Ray Walker.

Download the Michael Wallace Quartet press kit here