Artist Spotlight: Eli Wallace

Anna Hainze

If you’ve ever heard the shouts of “Yeah duuude!” echoing through the halls of the Con, then you probably know Elijah Creighton Wallace, fabulously talented junior piano major and main supporter of this classy battle cry. Though you might assume, based on this sample of his vocabulary, that you are dealing with a 13-year-old surfer instead of a 21-year-old jazz musician, let me assure you that Eli Wallace is packed full of mature surprises.
Here’s a sample. Over the past couple of months, Eli has been working closely with Professor Fred Sturm on an original composition arranged for large jazz ensemble and just last Friday this piece was premiered by the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE) to great acclaim. Said LUJE member sophomore Georgi Petrov, “I absolutely loved this piece-I was really impressed by how he, a relatively inexperienced jazz composer, incorporated so many elements of modern jazz so successfully into this piece.” For his extensive involvement in the jazz department, our hero has just recently been awarded both the Pi Kappa Lambda Award in Jazz Composition as well as another in Jazz Studies — two rather sizeable accomplishments for one little guy.
Eli draws a lot of his artistic inspiration from a variety of different jazz composers and musicians, such as Brad Mehldau, Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner, just to name a few. “I always want to be pushing my music forward and finding new things to do in improvisation and composition; I don’t like being stuck, if I do something too much I’ll try to find a way around it..any musician who pushes the envelope and moves me deeply is an inspiration,” said Eli.
And the future? Though Eli refused to comment on this front, ex-roommate and musical cohort Gabriel Davila let me know that Eli will “probably go to grad school, but he’ll still be lame.” Yeah dude.