Bennie Wallace

Bennie Wallace started playing jazz in 1959 with a school band led by Chet Hedgecoth. Hedgecoth took students to see good jazz bands in the region and drove them a hundred miles to see the Count Basie Band. Chet introduced Wallace to the Amvets, a black after-hours jazz club. He was able to play in a jazz club for the first time. Seth Crenshaw (the owner of Amvets) gave Wallace his first job as a leader of a band in the summer 1965. Wallace was a regular player in East Tennessee’s after-hours clubs before he left the South. Wallace was also studying recordings of jazz greats like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

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