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A listener Writes Re: Jack Wilson

A brilliant composer/arranger, Jack toiled in relative obscurity despite several marvlous dates for Blue Note that included Lee Morgan, etc.

Listener David Berk writes:

Jack was one of my favorite pianists. I first started listening to him at a small bar on La Brea off Crenshaw in L.A. in the mid to late 60s. A brilliant composer/arranger, Jack toiled in relative obscurity despite several marvlous dates for Blue Note that included Lee Morgan, etc. His Volt release, “Ramblin’ ,” was reissued by Fresh Sound and contains some benchmark recordings including an incredible take on Clare Fisher’s “Pensativa.” A great portion of his work including some sensational dates with the incomparable Sue Raney lie in the Warner Bros. vaults as yet unreleased. This would be the body of work he did with Albert Marx for Discovery & Trend.

Jack was a happy cat, who always drew outstanding musicians around him; perhaps the most notable of which was the vibist, Roy Ayers. Jack was passionate about his art and was a supremely gifted balladeer.

Frankly, I’m mad about him as an artist and have been re-listening to all of his work.

David also passes along the following post from jazz DJ Len Dobbin to a west-coast jazz listserv:

JACK WILSON IS ON MANY SESSIONS WORTH CHECKING OUT:In 1963 he did sessions under his own name for Atlantic that featured Roy Ayers on vibes as well as the first of many that featured him with the Gerald Wilson big band (Pacific Jazz) plus sessions with Nancy Wilson (Capitol), a Roy Ayers session for United Artists that included Curtis Amy and Jack is on the famous Amy session “Katanga” (Pacific Jazz).

The remainder of the 60s found sessions under his own name for Atlantic, Vault and Blue Note, a Julie London-Gerald Wilson sessions for Liberty, one with singer O.C. Smith for Columbia.

In the 70s more with Gerald Wilson, a pair of Blue Notes under Jack’s name, one with Lee Morgan on trumpet, he also did sessions for Discovery and an Eddie Harris date for the Night Music label.

In the 80s he did “Memories of Duke” with Clark Terry as leader on Pablo and in 1993 as a leader “In NY” for the Japanese DIW label.

Check him out – and may he R.I.P.

You can catch a glimpse of Jack Wilson playing piano with the early-1960s Gerald Wilson big band in this video (which also offers solo moments from Teddy Edwards, Jack Nimitz, Joe Maini, Jack Nimitz, and Mel Lewis):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD8aRXkXJTs

David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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