Six-Time Grammy Nominee Kennedy Center Living Legend of Jazz: Gerald Wilson


Gerald Wilson & Robert nOWGerald Wilson at pianoGerald Wilson ~ Composer, Arranger, Bandleader has been recognized as one of the premier innovators in jazz for over 65 years. Shown here with jazz journalist  Robert J. Carmack, after conducting the Gerald Wilson Orchestra at a Los Angeles fundraiser for longtime G.W.O. member,saxophonist Carl Randall. Still very active as bandleader, Wilson also shared some very interesting anecdotes and experiences as a young trumpet player/arranger. One story involved a late night call from Duke Ellington. ” Duke called me about three or four in the morning , requesting a special song with all the snappy arrangements and dynamics that was making Jimmy Lunceford’s Band the hottest in the land.. And,he wanted it the next day before he left town.”  grinning widely,the 94 year old went on to say, he completed the composition and delivered it on time to the “Duke.” But, Duke’s business manager failed to pay him, and it took another two years before he got paid. This happened because, He got another call for some chart arrangements. When Duke found out Gerald never got paid, he immediately paid him, and, gave him more work as master arranger. Wilson lived in the Windy City for a better part of a year at the age of fifteen, when the Chicago World’s Fair was there. Later on, as a member of the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra (which he joined in June of 1938), he used Chi-Town as his home base. While stationed at the Great Lakes Naval facility (1942-’44), Wilson took advantage of the fact he did not live on the base ,and promptly moved into the city.

“I’ve reached all of my goals, played and written for all of the greatest jazz orchestras (Lunceford, Ellington, Basie, and Benny Carter among them), written for movies and television, concert orchestras AND,maintained my own band for many decades. But it goes beyond my accomplishments to see that members of my family are carrying on the music in their own ways.” “Everything I write,” Wilson asserts, “from here on in, is going to be jazz. It’s the language I speak and it’s my music.”

“…an international treasure.” –Hubert Laws

“…one of the greatest composers and arrangers living today…genius.” –Kenny Burrell

“…few living legends have stepped up as often or with as wonderfully varied and lasting
results as the trumpeter, composer, arranger, and  conductor Gerald Wilson.” –Metro Pulse

“Gerald Wilson is on my list of musicians that I MUST play with!” –Ron Carter

Robert J. Carmack..jazz promoter,media consultant can be followed on twitter @blues2jazzguy &  facebook