Steve Wilson: The Total Jazz Musician

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I first heard Steve “live” while he was subbing on the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and subsequently started listening to him. It was clear that he was the real deal—an improviser who had studied the music and his instrument with great thoroughness. Steve has his own voice on saxophone while reflecting the influences of many of the great masters. In this interview, Steve talks about his musical beginnings and the influences of saxophonists Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker, David Sanborn, Eddie Harris, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Phil Woods, Johnny Hodges, etc. as well as drummers on his musical evolution. He also reflects on his development as a multi-instrumentalist, sideman, bandleader, and jazz educator. Finally, Steve provides an inside look at his approach to practicing and mastering a tune when he dissects Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma.” I hope you have as much fun with this video interview as I had interacting with Steve.

About the Artist: A native of Hampton, VA, Steve Wilson burst onto the scene as a member of the young lion’s sextet O.T.B. (Out of the Blue) just prior to moving to New York in 1987. Over the last 30 years, Steve has become everyone’s favorite sideman, recording over 150 albums while working with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Dave Holland Chic Corea, Maria Schneider, Ron Carter, Christian McBride, Joe Henderson, Buster Williams, Lewis Nash, James Williams, Gerald Wilson, and many more. He has also been the leader on 11 albums. His latest album, “Steve Wilson & Wilsonian’s Grain: Live in New York­–The Vanguard Sessions” has received high critical acclaim: “Wilsonian’s Grain is jazz at its finest….in conception, execution and spontaneity”—WBGO Radio. In addition to his role as a performer, Steve has become increasingly involved as a music educator. He is the Director of Jazz Studies at CCNY (CUNY) and is in demand as a clinician and guest artist at universities and music conferences throughout the country. Steve Wilson has been a frequent winner in Downbeat’s Critics and Readers Polls as well as the Jazz Journalists Association on both alto and soprano saxophones. A longtime Yamaha artist, Steve continues to stretch his musical horizons. Please check out his website:


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