Tim Whalen checks in with the news that he is leaving Madison. The jazz pianist-composer-arranger-producer has taken a faculty post with the University of Toledo, and plans to depart next month to assume his first college teaching position.
Toledo's gain represents a diminution of Madison's creative class: Since coming to town more than 10 years ago to attend the University of Wisconsin, Whalen has been a prominent figure on the local jazz and funk scene. Among other accomplishments, he was a principal in Phat Phunktion, formed his own nonet and quartet, and has gigged with the New Breed Quintet and other stars in the local jazz constellation.
Among other rationales for taking the Toledo post, he explains in an email announcement, is the fact that the position is scheduled to last for one to three years -- a period that affords him the prospect of using the faculty position as a stepping-stone to move back to New York, where he has performed at venues ranging from the Jazz Standard to Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center.
At the University of Toledo, he adds, he will enjoy the opportunity to accompany and write arrangements for the Vocalstra ensemble led by jazz great Jon Hendricks. "Just to be around him will be incredible," Whalen notes in the announcement.
Whalen plans to leave on Aug. 11, providing less than a month to catch him in performance before his departure. Two chances present themselves in the next 30 hours: Whalen joins Pawan Benjamin (tenor sax) and John Christiansen (bass) at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Brink Lounge; and, at 8:30 p.m. Friday, plays the Concourse Hotel with Benjamin, Christiansen and drummer Wayne Salzmann.