“Steve uses the AMT LS!” – Steve Wilson
“Adept in almost any setting, Wilson has the rare ability to say more with less and to let the space between each note breathe and resonate” (George Varga, The San Diego Tribune). It is these qualities that have earned STEVE WILSON the enviable position of being on the bandstand and in the studio with the greatest names in jazz. He is also “gifted with fabulous technique and a first-rate sense of what’s musical” (Dan Neal, The Palm Beach Post), qualities that have earned him critical acclaim as a bandleader. A musician’s musician, Wilson had been documented on over 100 recordings with the likes of Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, O.T.B., Donald Brown, Billy Childs, Don Byron, Bill Stewart, James Williams, and Mulgrew Miller. Wilson has six recordings under his own name. His sidemen read as a who’s who: Lewis Nash, Cyrus Chestnut, Kevin Hays, Steve Nelson, Gregory Hutchinson, Dennis Irwin, James Genus, Larry Grenedier, Ray Drummond, Ben Riley, Mulgrew Miller, Nicholas Payton, and his current working quartet of Bruce Barth, Ed Howard and Adam Cruz.
In a New York Times poll, Wilson was cited by his peers as one of the most likely artists to break out [on his own] as an established leader. And break out he does with his debutStretch Records release, Generations. His second release for Stretch Records, Passages, features Bruce Barth, Ed Howard and Adam Cruz, with special guest Nicholas Payton, and nine original tunes written by Wilson. It establishes Wilson as an eclectic songwriter and bandleader, recording for the first time with his working band. The original material reflects upon the wonderful legacy left behind by some of the legends the jazz world has recently lost, and explores straight-ahead swing jazz and delves into strains of R&B, Afro-Cuban and Latin music. Wilson’s first four CDs (New York Summit, Step Lively, Blues for Marcusand Four For Time) are on the Criss Cross label.
Wilson’s most important recording to date, Soulful Song, was released by MAXJAZZ in June 2003. It features his Quartet: Bruce Barth, Ed Howard and Adam Cruz, and special guests Rene Marie, Carla Cook, Phillip Manuel, James Genus, Billy Kilson, Paul Bollenback and Wilson “Chembo” Corniel. Exploring music from “Black radio, as it was called then, was particularly inclusive in its programming. On the same station one could experience the best or R&B, jazz, blues, gospel, comedy, and social commentary”. Wilson includes songs by Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Abbey Lincoln, Gil Scott Heron, Earth, Wind & Fire, Patrice Rushen, The Staple Singers, as well as new original material. The recording, the debut of the horn series for MAXJAZZ, issues forth a powerful and provocative performance by the finest musicians in jazz today.
A native of Hampton, Virginia, Wilson began his formal training at age 12 and played in various R&B and funk bands throughout his teens. While studying music at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, he had opportunities to perform and/or study with Jimmy and Percy Heath, Jon Hendricks, Jaki Byard, Frank Foster and Ellis Marsalis. In 1986, Wilson landed a chair in the band O.T.B (Out of the Blue) a sextet of promising young jazz players who were sponsored by Blue Note Records. In the summer of 1987, he moved to New York and continued to perform and record with O.T.B. until 1989. He also toured the US and Europe for one year with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1988, drummer Ralph Peterson, another O.T.B. alumnus, asked Wilson to join his quintet and subsequently his critically acclaimed, Fo’tet. Wilson’s career began to develop further the following year while working with Michele Rosewoman, Renee Rosnes and the American Jazz Orchestra and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Later that year he joined the Buster Williams Quintet, Something More.
Wilson has recorded and/or toured for such diverse artists as Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, Charlie Byrd, Donald Brown, Mulgrew Miller, Kevin Mahogany, Bruce Barth, Dave Liebman, Louie Bellson, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Don Byron and Geoff Keezer. He has performed with Dr. Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center, which is broadcast on NPR. He periodically performs with some of New York’s premier big bands, including the Mingus Big Band and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He was also Artistic Consultant for Harvey Keitel for the film “Lulu On The Bridge.”
In addition to his performance schedule, Wilson devotes time to educational activities. He was an adjunct faculty member in the jazz program at William Paterson College in Wayne, New Jersey from 1991 to 1998; and has led clinics at the Hartt (University of Hartford/CT) and Manhattan (NYC) Schools of Music, and to Hamilton College. Wilson brought a sextet to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s “Carolina Jazz Festival” where they were in residency for week of clinics and performances. He was the Artist-In-Residence for the 2002/2003 Season with the award winning organization, CITYFOLK, in public schools, colleges and universities in the Dayton, Ohio area. The residency included a commission of a new work, which Wilson and his quartet premiered at the closing concert. On October 18, 2003, Steve Wilson received the Virginia Jazz Award 2003 Musician of the Year, presented by the Richmond Jazz Society. This award is given for outstanding service to the Richmond Jazz Society and advancement of jazz in the commonwealth of Virginia.
Wilson continues to tour with the Steve Wilson Quartet: Bruce Barth, Ed Howard and Adam Cruz and Generations (From Hard Bop to Here) his multi-generational quartet with Mulgrew Miller, Ray Drummond and Ben Riley. He also performs with his long-time friend and colleague, Lewis Nash, in Musical Dialogue with Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson.