Tag Archives: Composer

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

HONORING NDUGU CHANCLER:Drummer Composer Jazz R&B Icon

left -right Patrice Rushen, Ernie Watts, Ndugu,and Alphonso Johnson

Recently held on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Chancler received  a hero’s welcome at Bovard  Auditorium in L.A.  from family, friends, and fans for his selfless contributions to education, the community at large and a lifetime of  musical achievements that spans 5 decades in music. In the studio, He’s well-known as the “Drummer” on Multi-Grammy winning Thriller album by Michael Jackson.  Also, as a hit songwriter on such Soul & Pop hits as Let It Whip/Dazz Band , “Dance Sister Dance” by Santana and “Reach For It”  by George Duke. In addition to Co-producing on albums  with a virtual Who’s Who in music,the likes of Santana, George Duke, The Crusaders, Joe Sample,Wilton Felder and Tina Turner. As a Educator, Chancler works with the Jazz Mentorship Program and the Thelonious Monk Institute, and is faculty advisor to USC’s Jazz Reach,Young Musicians Program at University of  California  Berkley, and the Stanford University Jazz Workshop.

On hand to perform and pay tribute was longtime friend and collaborator, pianist Patrice Rushen, saxophonist Ernie Watts, and bassist, Alphonso Johnson(fellow alumnus from Weather Report) This stellar cast of musicians made up a group called The Meeting who performed to standing ovations all evening.  The whole evening was weaved together nicely by Actor/Musician, Mykelti Williamson as Host.  Several highlights of the evening were two college youth bands performing music by or, co-written by Chancler. The Thornton Jazz Orchestra , conducted by Ndugu Chancler performed “Silk” & “Out of Here”, both penned by Ndugu. Also, an  ensemble of  youngsters performing Latin Jazz music, called , ALAJE provided backup for soul singer Mr. Greg Walker performing Dance Sister Dance  from the hit Santana album,” Amigos”.  As sidebar, moving remarks by Ndugu’s son, Rashon Chancler spoke of  his love and admiration for his father while growing up as a child. while teaching him about goals and discipline to achieve his dreams.

Chancler teaches clinics around the world for Yamaha, Paiste, Remo, TOCA,Vic Firth and Shure Bros. He is an adjunct professor of Jazz and Popular Music Studies at the USC School of Music for almost 20 years.