Wally Shoup Sax Trio
Wally Shoup (born 1944) is an American jazz alto saxophonist and painter. Based in Seattle, Washington since 1985, Shoup is a mainstay of that city’s improvised music scene.
Born in North Carolina, and raised in Charlotte, initially working as a schoolteacher, Shoup moved Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1960s, then to Colorado in 1970. There, he first lived in Manitou Springs and later in Colorado Springs.
By his own account, Shoup “grew up listening to black music in the South, the blues and jazz and R&B,” was “introduced to free jazz in the late ‘60s…in Atlanta”. Although his “voice is definitely influenced by African-American music” he “kind of felt like free jazz was the domain of black musicians.” Hearing Britain’s Music Improvisation Company, “he simultaneously discovered free improvisation and his calling as a musician.” “It wasn’t jazz-based,” he would say in 2003.“ They were trying to find some new ways of improvising. I realized that was the kind of music I wanted to know about, and the only way I could know more about it was by playing it.”
In 1975 he became an active organizer, deejay, and player of music merging free jazz, free improvisation and noise. After deciding he was ready to play the saxophone as a performer, he formed his first trio, in Colorado, with Ross Rabin and Keith Gardner, incorporating contact microphones on metal objects to create “noisescapes.” He released his first album, Scree-Run Waltz in 1981.
Shortly after arriving in Seattle [in 1985], Shoup became an early organizer of that city’s Improvised Music Festival, which began that year, and which is now the United States’ longest-running improvised music festival.
Shoup has done two CDs with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth Hurricane Floyd (Subliminal, 2000) and Live at Tonic (Leo Records, 2003) with Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano. He has also made two recordings with Nels Cline of Wilco: Immolation/Immersion (CD, 2005) and Suite: Bittersweet (LP, 2007), both on Strange Attractors Audio House.
Shoup formed the Wally Shoup Trio in 2001 with bassist Reuben Radding and drummer Bob Rees. Speaking of his work in 2003, Shoup said, “I’m not quite as abstract as I used to be. On my new stuff, I’ll play motifs and melodies and occasionally even a tune … I see noise as just another element to play with, just another texture or color or detail.” More recent projects include Spider Trio (with Jeffery Taylor and Dave Abramson) and the Wally Shoup Quartet (with Gust Burns, Bob Rees and Paul Kikuchi).