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The Jazz Culture


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JAZZ HERITAGE Mike Longo Exclusive to The Jazz Culture Newsletter,

'Look, man, it's like the people's spirit is free.'" --Mike Longo at a jazz festival

JC: You were born in Ohio, and your father was a bass player and your mother played organ and piano. When were you sure you wanted to be a professional musician? Mike Longo (ML): Actually, I started playing at three, and I sort of recall my mother showing me some basic triad harmony on the piano. ..I started lessons at four. She did teach me some stuff at the beginning. I guess you could say she was my first teacher. I think I was 12 years old when I won a contest playing boogie woogie in Ft. Lauderdale. I was in the movie theatre with a friend. There was a cartoon called “Little Toot.” The sound track was Freddy Martin’s band with Jack Fina playing piano. He was playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” against the boogie woogie bass in the left hand. As I was watching the film, I was memorizing what he was playing in his left hand. …I had my own version of it. Then one day, I was walking by the Florida Theatre and I saw a poster that said, Talent Contest 1st Prize, $15. [At the time] I was playing little league baseball. I didn’t have a mitt. The mitt cost $13. I went in and played my version of the boogie woogie and won. Eight weeks later, they had a grand finale contest with the eight weeks of winners competing for the grand prize. My mother made me learn the original version from the movie, and I won the big contest. That’s when I started to read books about the music 2

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business, the beginning of the 7th grade. When I went back to school, they voted me the Class President. And I said, ‘Hey man, maybe I should think about this as a career.’ I started reading books about the music business, at 12. I was in 9th grade at Ft. Lauderdale High School [and was in the] High School Dance Band. They had a very large music program, band, chorus, and what they called the dance band. I met a talented trumpet player and drummer, and my first gig was at this dance center playing on the weekends for dancing. Then my father started hiring me for his band, the club date band. In the 9th grade I was able to buy a car. It wasn’t jazz work per se, it was playing dance music. My dad had a jazz leaning, so some of the stuff, you could call it-jazz. I started playing with Cannonball when I was in 10th grade. [At the time things were segregated.] The black High School was Dillard High. He was the band director at Dillard High and he wasn’t famous yet. He was unknown, but he was playing like he played, trying to supplement his Mike Longo, Pianist, Composer, Arranger, income by playing Bandleader, Big Band Leader, Writer, gigs. This jazz DJ Educator, Producer asked me, ‘Would you mind playing with a Negro?’ I said ‘No, of course not.’ He The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


hired me to play with Cannon at a In these Pages jam session held in a Youth Mike Longo Jazz Heritage 1‐4 Center in Hollywood Florida. My May Listings 5‐6 jaw hit the floor when I heard John Watson Ad [Cannonball] him play. I told my Kuni Mikami Ad father about him and he said to Mike Longo Cont. 9‐16 hire him. [At the time] they were Kit McClure Band 1 7-1 8 dedicating the new Gateway International Women shopping Center and it was the in Jazz Festival Pix first gig that Cannonball played Obituary‐Joe Wilder 19‐23 with my father’s band. We were the first mixed band in Ft. Lauderdale’s history. Cannonball played “Stars Fell on Alabama.” We were out near the beach and everybody started dancing. He melted everybody’s heart. My dad started using him regularly after that. Pick Gordon [Cannonball’s regular piano player] got busted while they were playing at a club called Porky’s, the same one depicted in the movies of the 70s and 80s. Cannonball called my mother, “Mrs. Longo, would you let young Mike come finish out the week with us?” My mother consented and that was my first real jazz gig in a club. He later got me a gig on an R&B band. We were playing the chitlin circuit up and down south Florida. [The leader of the band was] Harold Ferguson. During the day he was a shoe shine guy. But at night he was a trumpet player. He had an R&B Band. Cannonball worked for him and he got me the gig. Dorothy Longo, right, and Mike Longo and Paul West at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium


cont. p. 8

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The Jazz Culture Newsletter Jazz Tours in NYC are available; also music teachers in various countries for students & jazz lovers. email: Ads are available in The Jazz Culture Newsletter. The Jazz Culture Newsletter has been read in 76 countries. Brian McMillen is a contributing Photographer. Connie MacNamee and Arnold J. Smith are contributing writers." Countries: US, UK, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, Burma, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam

May Listings Robert Anderson‐ Every Saturday, University of the Streets 10:30 Clarence Banks‐ Swing 46 most Thursdays with Felix and the Cats, 346 W. 46 St. Ray Blue: Greenwich House in Greenwich Village. May 9-

Mothers Day the Bean Runner Cafe May 8 private event in Connecticut;l Jazz Foundation in Bushwick

Richard Clements‐ Pianist, 11th Street Bar most Mondays, 8 Kenney Gates, pianist. Philadelphia, Tues., Sun. some Sats.‐ High Note Cafe on Tasker & 13th, 5‐9 p.m.

Concert: May 31 , Sat. 8 p.m.

Bertha Hope ‐ Minton's on 206 W. 118 Street, every weekend George Gee Orchestra at Swing 46, every Tues, most Fridays 9:30 Loston Harris: Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle; Tues ‐ Thur 9:30pm ‐ 12:30am, Fri‐Sat 9:30pm‐1:00am Bemelmans Bar Residency 12th year at The Carlyle, 35 East 76th

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St., New York, NY 10021 (76th St. & Madison Ave.) 212‐744‐1600 Kim Clarke: May 12 at For My Sweet, Brooklyn Mike Longo: Tuesdays Gillespie Auditorium in the NYC Baha'i Center at 53 East 11th Street 8:00 and 9:30 Joe Magnarelli/Akiko Tsuruga at Memorial Hall, Medford Lakes, NJ

John Mosca & Michael Weiss, Vanguard Orchestra every Monday at the Village Vanguard 8 p.m. David Pearl‐ Mondays at the Thalia, 95 St. bet. B'way & West End 8 p.m. Valery Pomoronov‐ Zinc Bar on May 7, 9:30 p.m. Bill Saxton: Every Friday and Saturday Bill’s Place 133 Street Murray Wall, bassist, 11th Street Bar most Mondays, 8 p.m. Leroy Williams, drums: Minton's Sun & Tues 2‐6 W. 118 St. ENGLAND: John Watson Trio at the Palm Court, Langham Hotel, London, 1c Portland, Regent St. 207‐636‐1000 Fri‐Sat George Gee‐May 23, Frankie Manning's 100th, Edison Ballroom, NYC

Happy Birthday May Babies Jack Walrath, Bob Albanese, Mark Morganelli, David Coss, Nabuko Jazz, Rhonda Hamilton, Lafayette Harris, Ellen Martin, Rodney Kendricks Thank You for Bringing Beauty & Love to the World LEEE JOHN LIVE AT HIDEAWAY MAY 2014 featuring John Watson on piano/vocal/keyboards!

IMAGINATION LIVE AT EPIC DALSTON - 3RD MAY 2014 Featuring John Watson on keyboards/vocal John will be performing with Leee John & Imagination at Epic in Dalston on Saturday 3rd May. Indalston is proud to present


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Imagination Live for first time in the Dalston area... supporting djs on the night include Sancho panza head honchos Matt Brown & Jimmy K Tel, Mr Shiver, Sophie Lloyd and Fabulous Franc. This is a presale Ticketed event only - There will be no tickets bought on the door and no admission after 11pm. Doors open at 7pm and the band perform at 9.30pm - tickets £17.50. To purchase your E-Ticket visit: https://www.rsn-tickets. com/events/1442/indalston-pres-imagination-feat-leee-john-live LIVE VIDEO OF LEEE JOHN & HIS JAZZ QUARTET featuring John Watson on piano Enjoy the video Leee John - Lady Sings The Blues/Strange Fruit filmed at John's recent show with Leee John & His Jazz Quartet at the award-winning jazz club Hideaway in Streatham or, for more videos ofJohn, visit his YouTube channel at:

KUNI MIKAMI, Pianist is also an acclaimed, talented Videographer Special Introductory Sale: Five Minute Edited (with music) Video Resume for Performers $300 Contact Kuni @:

Artist must provide: • Good quality HD video on computer file • Good recorded audio sound • A photo of yourself • Text you want to see on the video

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cont. from p. 4

Pub. Note: Michael Longo, pianist, composer, arranger, big band leader, writer, and educator is a keeper of the flame of Dizzy Gillespie’s unique innovations in jazz, and also heads, with his wife Dorothy Longo, one of the loveliest jazz venues in New York City at The John Birks Gillespie Auditorium. A theatre with upholstered chairs, excellent acoustics, a welcoming atmosphere and gracious staff, with its own constituency, ranging from tourists, aristocrats and culture vultures, and running through all income brackets, the Tuesday night concert series is now in its 11th successful year. Mr. Longo is a second generation musician who has travelled the globe numerous times representing jazz, the U.S. If jazz is to survive, musicians must absorb the lessons that role models such as Mr. Longo provide, to become well rounded artists who can create careers with several income streams, make

The John Birks Gillespie Auditorium at the Baha'i Center at 153 East 11th Street


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meaningful contributions to our music and build venues for listening. My dad was also in the produce business. He owned a produce company that serviced the hotels, restaurants and country clubs. He was a member of this country club, so they were his customers. They hired his band to play for a dance there. We played the first set [at the country club]. The Maitre’ D said, ‘We have a table for the band to eat at.’ After we placed our orders, the guy came over and said, ‘The colored boy will have to eat in the kitchen.’ My dad threw his napkin down, got up and said, “We’ll all go eat in the kitchen. And you can take my membership and shove it up your ass!” From that point on Cannonball loved my father. That same night, the whole dance floor was filled up. A redneck came up and said, ‘We can’t dance to your music.’ My dad said, ‘Well what do you think all of these other people are doing? Go home and practice!’ JC: Were you an only child? ML: I have a younger sister who’s a tap dancer. Now she lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. JC: You graduated Western Kentucky University? Did that help you? ML: Graduating? Actually, I know now after all these years that education is not about learning, but about learning how to learn. You couldn’t major in jazz back then. I had to major in classical piano. I was playing one or two recitals a semester. Then I had to play a senior recital. I played a Chopin Ballade, a Hindemith Sonata, and a 6 movement Bach suite. It took me whole year to memorize and practice. [I did] the C# minor Etude on a recital the previous year. Going through the process of working out that music, playing Chopin and Hindemith helped me with my instrument, my mastery of the instrument-- from playing all that The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


music. There was a teacher Claude Rose. He had a class that was 3 hours a day in ear training and dictation. I spent 4 years in his class. That helped in terms of voice leading and harmony. I had a gig there, five nights a week in a club called “The Boots and Saddle.” It burned to the ground in Bowling Green where the college was located. The drummer was Pete Helmintoller from Ft. Lauderdale who had followed me to college there. He was the same drummer who played with me and Cannonball on the chitlin circuit. He went back in the burning building to get his drums, and I went back in to get him; we had to crawl on the floor. We escaped the fire. I paid my own way through college playing gigs. [After “The Boots and Saddle” burned down, I worked with] Hank ”Sugarfoot” Garland, famous at the Grand Ol Opry. He was a closet be bopper though and had an after hours gig at the Carousel Club in Printer’s Alley in Nashville. That club is depicted in the movie about his life. I played my whole senior year over there, working weekends. I was (also) working with Carl Garvin. He had a small big band. He was a jazz trumpet player. He was playing dances and things like that. JC: You were playing at the Embers West and Roy Eldridge brought Dizzy Gillespie to hear you? ML: Actually my first gig in NY was at the Metropole. They had 6 bands a day working there. I was a young guy, working afternoons and nights. From 2:00 in the afternoon until 8:00 PM and Mr. Longo introducing a song at the John Birks Gillespie from 10:00 PM-4:00 AM at Auditorium night. [In the day with] Tony 10

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Parenti, and at night Henry Red Allen. Dizzy was playing at the Modern Jazz Room upstairs, and on his break he’d have to go by us. Chuck Carley, a bassist from Ft. Lauderdale, called me and asked me if I saw the International Musician Magazine. He said, ‘Dizzy’s talking about you.’ Dizzy mentioned me [in the interview]. After I studied with Oscar Peterson we were playing at the Embers East. Dizzy was the headliner. I was playing between Dizzy’s sets. Dizzy heard me play and mouthed the words, “I love you.” I was playing at the Embers West two years later with Paul Chambers opposite Roy Eldridge and on his break Roy went and got Dizzy, and said, ‘You got to come by and hear this piano player.’ Dizzy came by, called me the next day and hired me. JC: How many years working with him? ML: Nine years straight full time. And for the rest of his life on a part-time basis. Sometimes we’d go on tour, just he and I, like once we went on a tour of Germany, Austria, Sicily. Other times he’d call for similar things with just him and me. I went to Japan, with Paul West and Dizzy in 1987, and we played with Japanese musicians. He had the Dream Band and I was the pianist. I kept working with him all the way up until his death in 1992. JC: How did you learn from Dizzy? ML: Dizzy was a messenger, aside from being a genius. He organically changed music. He discovered a new musical language that took jazz to another level. To this day, people have not figured out what he was doing. They have figured out the notes that were played. They can’t figure out the concept that produced the notes in the first place. I have a DVD series out, The Rhythmic Nature of Jazz, based on what I learned from Dizzy. Our website is called His concept was a revelation; he uncovered an organic change in music. My stuff on the DVD, the African drumming, he took and did something with that. They’re now using it in the school system in Connecticut. A psychotherapist is using it and has claimed to have cured bipolar disorder with it. I pointed out to him, in my 26 year my The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


association with Dizzy, I never saw Dizzy Gillespie depressed, ever. A creature of joy. He would get angry but that would pass in two seconds. He had a love and zest for life that was unbelievable. To be in his presence and play with him was pure magic. He was tight with my family. He adopted my family and would call my mom and dad frequently from the road. He referred to my mother as, “mama.” For about 20 years he was a frequent house guest at their home in Florida. He said he couldn’t relax any place like he could there. They had an acre of ground. He loved to pick the fruit from the trees and eat it. And they had a swimming pool. [My mother] You know what she would do? We would have the whole band stay there when we played in that area. Everybody would come home at a different hours of the night. Whenever they came in, [he had James Moody, Paul West, Candy Finch, Dizzy and me] she [my mother] would wake up and cook them

Mike Longo, Paul West on bass, and Ray Mosca, drums at a concert at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium


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breakfast. Dizzy bought a silver tray for her as a gift and had it engraved saying “from your sons, Dizzy, Paul Candy, Moody and …oops! Mike.” JC: What led to your belief in Baha’i? Is there a relationship? ML: Of course. I became a Baha’i five years after Dizzy declared. At our jazz concert series in New York that takes place every Tuesday we had the theater re-named The John Birks Gillespie Auditorium. It’s not that I’m playing a role in keeping jazz alive in general, but the direction that Dizzy took it in, and the message he had is what I’m trying to preserve. As I said earlier most musicians have figured out the notes but not the concept. Going around it is not going to get it. Stravinsky said, “Musicians have to digest the tradition and the music will take them to another place.” There are elements in Dizzy’s music that haven’t been digested yet. The reason we started the series at the Baha’i Center was because there used to be a loft scene in New York where you could hear jazz at affordable prices. A lot of musicians need exposure and need to play in a NYC venue. We’re trying to support the apprenticeship learning principle. In my band the age group ranges from 20 to 70. Also, we help musicians, you know, in the sense of musicians being able to perform in front of a live audience. It’s one thing to play in jam sessions, and in your house, but it’s not the same as performing live in front of an audience. All the different age groups need exposure and experience performing. There’s a lot of rehearsal bands in NY. That don’t mean anything unless you play in front of an audience. We don’t put any restrictions on the musicians whatsoever. We have people playing free jazz, bebop, swing. It’s a place they can try out new charts. They love playing in there. There’s no alcohol, nobody talking, they’ve got the full attention of the audience. Everybody leaves there with a smile on their face. JC: How long have you had your jazz center? The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


ML: We’re in our 11th year. We were trying to get 501© 3 non-profit status but there was so much paperwork and record keeping, it was not practical. It used to be easy to do that, so our lawyer advised us to use Fractured Atlas. They are a company that offers fiscal sponsorships through their 501 C 3. We started a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 and we raised $19,000 for that season. We also got a grant from the lower Manhattan Cultural Council. We make nothing, Dottie and I. Whatever comes in the door goes to the players. JC: Do you ever do Fundraisers? ML: When Lorraine Gillespie gave us permission to use Dizzy’s name there, we signed a contract not to do anything like that. The Baha’i center is not the place to do something like that. The Baha’is only accept money from its members. It’s Baha’i law. JC: What is the difference between the apprenticeship method and copying off records to learn jazz? ML: The main difference is that people do not understand the role that touch plays in playing jazz. You cannot get a touch from a recording. The only way you can get that is to play with someone that has it. You have to experience jazz. You can’t get that from a recording. In that instance you are just experiencing listening to jazz. When I was playing with Cannonball, I was experiencing comping behind him-it was pulling me into a place. You can’t learn that from a recording. There’s a misconception about that. When playing classical music, you learn the notes Chopin wrote and play it. That principle does not work with jazz. You’re not learning the concept that made the person play the notes with that approach. That concept is expressed through one’s touch. You cannot learn a 14

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touch from a recording. JC: Talk about your new CD that is hitting the charts. ML: “Step On It”, my latest trio CD with Bob Cranshaw, Lewis Nash and myself. I had made a couple of CDs with Cranshaw and Lewis earlier. One was “Sting like a Bee” that was very popular. Bob Mike Longo recently Magnuson, the producer, decided to do it again. I went in the studio with Cranshaw and Lewis. We went in and rehearsed two hours and just hit it. Most everything on it was one take. I made another CD with Ray Mosca and Paul West, my regular trio, called A Celebration of Diz and Miles, [that was popular a few years ago.] I had a Big band record since that which went up to #7 on the charts called, Live from New York. It was recorded at the Baha’i Center. JC: Do you still teach privately? ML: I teach privately when I’m in NY. JC: How much time do you spend on the road? ML: The weekend, a night here or there. I do a lot of clinics, master class, 2-3 days for that. I did Interlochen for 3 or 4 days; I was at Central Washington University. I did a concert, master class, and a club in Seattle. I did a concert at Butler University, a NJ City College master class. At Western Kentucky, I did a master class and a concert with the symphony orchestra. Prior to that I wrote a Three Movement Suite for Dizzy with the Detroit Symphony, and for James Moody with San Diego Symphony. [And I worked with the] Bowling Green Symphony Orchestra in The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


Kentucky. I consider myself a servant of the music. Hopefully I allow the music to play me. It’s like the music passes through me, I don’t have a lot to do with it. Dizzy used to say, “The ego is the enemy of this music.” I’ve sort of learned over the years to give up myself to a higher force. See:— a blog that has interesting education

stuff, film clips of Mike with Dizzy, and James Moody. A very interesting educational blog. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN IN JAZZ FESTIVAL 2014

Jacqueline Lennon, President ofIWJ; Kim Thurman, Sec'y; above right-flautist Dotty Taylor & saxophonist Carol Sudhalter


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Above-Youth in Action Award winner, Natasha Scheuble, Vocalist

Left, Kim Clarke, with Kit McClure Band, Right, Antoinette Montage, Mistress ofCeremonies; below, vocalist Louise Bethune, Charissa, violinist, Bertha Hope, Board ofDirectors of IWJ & Pianist, Angeleisha Rodgers, Trumpet, Producer Jim Harrison, classical violinist Nikki Matsoukas

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Pianist Jill McCarron, Kit McClure, Bandleader/Tenor Sax; Kat Cosco, Charissa & Keisha St. John, MC ofJam, Singer/Bd.


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Joe and Solveig Wilder at his Birthday/Tribute at Dizzy's on February 19

Joe Wilder was a virtuoso trumpet player, a devoted father and husband, who broke glass ceilings. Born in Colwyn, PA on February 22, 1922, he died on May 14 in New York of congestive heart failure. The jazz world mourns Joe Wilder. As a human being, he was beyond category. He was a family man who was able to put his daughters through college and grad school and also managed to accomplish his artistic dreams: he was recorded as a leader on jazz and classical cds, was one of the first African American musicians who worked in Broadway pit bands, in the big sound studios doing session work, and playing classical music with the New York Philharmonic and as first trumpet of the Symphony of the New World, as well as leading his own jazz groups. The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


Mr. Wilder gained love and fame among fellow musicians for his gracious, humble character as he broke several glass ceilings in his seven decade career. His father Curtis was a bassist and bandleader in Philadelphia. Joe Wilder made trips back to Philadelphia to care for his father in his later years. Joe Wilder performed on the radio with the Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong bands as a child, attended the Mastbaum School of Music, and joined Les Hite's band at 19. Mr. Wilder was a World War II veteran along with Mr. Bobby Trout, at whose recommendation he gained entry to the military band and became Assistant Bandmaster. When he moved to New York, he attended and graduated from the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Joe Alessi. In addition to his studio session work, he recorded with stars such as Dizzy Gillespie, Tad Dameron, Gil Evans, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, and many others, as well as several albums as a leader for Savoy, Columbia and Evening Star. He became a National Endowment Jazz Master in 2008. Mr. Wilder is survived by his adored wife Solveig, daughters Solveig, Elin, Inga-Kirsten, a son from prior marriage, Joseph, and six grandchildren. Comments of Fellow Musicians

“I once offered to pay him to say ‘damn it,’ and he wouldn’t take the money, said Warren Vache. Mr. Vache also said Mr. Wilder was the only musician he knew whom he would trust with his wallet. "Joe Wilder, who I call "Joe Milder" will remain in our hearts and souls forever. He was a gentle man who made beautiful music with sincerity and passion. We treasure his wonderful photographs." Jimmy and Mona Heath

"No matter how much we thank him, it would not be enough," 20

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Joe Wilder talking to Victor Goines at his Tribute at JALC Wynton Marsalis

“Joe was a great trumpeter/ musician that I have known for over 45 years. We performed together on many occasions on record dates, Jingles, TV shows and in the trumpet section of the Symphony of the New World. He was one of the first African American musicians to be hired on Broadway in the 1950's and worked in many Broadway orchestra pits. This fact allowed him to have a American Federation of Musicians pension. He also has a few recordings that show off his great taste in performing. I also think of his great photographs of many Jazz artists over the years. He will be missed.” Jimmy Owens

“I'm truly saddened by the passing of this wonderful man/musician. At the same time, I'm happy that I was lucky enough to know and play with him. Somewhere, I have a picture of myself setting up my drums. Joe is right beside me telling me The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


something (probably a joke) and I'm laughing my backside off. That's Joe. Always putting a smile on your face. “For all the changes he had to go through with racism in the studios and on Broadway etc., it was amazing to me how he always so positive. It's real easy to say something nice about a person when they've departed this earth. In Joe's case, I never heard anyone say a cross word about him while he was alive. He was a intelligent, dignified, elegant gentleman as well as being a master musician. I wish I could be half the man he was. I'd be doing alright. God bless Joe Wilder.” Kenny Washington The Jazz Maniac

“Yes I knew him. I attended his 92nd birthday celebration at Lincoln center. He always had a peaceful and loving disposition. In spite of the times that he can up in this country. Always encouraging and willing to helpful to the younger musicians. Some people say "they never heard him curse or angry" He also had the foresight to take pictures of different signs of discrimination. So he left a lot for us to see and hear. "God Bless Joe Wilder" Bill Saxton

“I dug Joe's playing on record, I never heard him live. I did meet him a few times, he is a delightful person. He has a lot of class, and dignity. A refreshing attitude towards life and music.” Joe Magnarelli

“I knew Joe well. I got acquainted with Joe during our time playing together in the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in the early 1990s. Despite our various trials and tribulations regarding our working conditions, including the conductors' ideas about the music, Joe remained the consummate pro. Looking for opportunities to feature Joe in a quartet setting where he wasn't required to "back up" anyone, where he could 22

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play whatever he wanted, and highlight creative skills, I booked an engagement at the Kitano Hotel in 2005. The following year I brokered a week's engagement for Joe at the Village Vanguard. This was the first time in his 84 years that he ever lead a group of his own at a major New York jazz venue. We played a return engagement a few months later. In the rhythm section was myself, John Webber and Lewis Nash. “Joe was probably the kindest, most genuine, humble and dignified person I ever met. It was a real pleasure accompanying him, because his improvisations were always fresh and unpredictable, but thoroughly melodic and logical. Artistically and professionally, he was dedicated to excellence right from the beginning and throughout his entire career. “

“ The first time I met Joe Wilder was in a band we both played in that honored people that recorded for Verve records. I then ran into him at St. Peter's Church where his birthday was celebrated. The last time I saw Joe was when he played at Frank Foster's funeral at Abyssinan Baptist Church. “Everytime we talked, he was very open, very kind and just a beautiful person. He was very encouraging, full of knowledge and wisdom and was indeed a first class gentleman in addition to being a master musician.” Gene Ghee

“I learned about Joe Wilder long before I had the privilege of meeting him. He was a role model for all trumpet players and young black musicians because he opened up the doors of Broadway and the New York studios to us. He set such a high standard because he was able to go into a situation and perform at the very highest level. In some ways he made it more difficult for the rest of us because the expectations were so high. Upon meeting him and seeing that he was not only a great musician, but one of The Jazz Culture, V.III:118


the nicest human beings ever, I was impressed to try to emulate him. “I had a conversation with Thad Jones about Mr. Wilder and Thad said that while he was still living and working in Pontiac, Michigan he would go to Detroit to sit in and play with the best musicians there. One night he was on his way to the "Street" where all the music was being performed and he heard this big, beautiful trumpet sound coming from one of the clubs. He said that he went running to find out who it was and it turned out to be Joe Wilder. He said he had never heard anything so beautiful at the time. I relayed the story to Mr. Wilder one day in the hall way of Juilliard Music School, where we were both teaching, and Mr. Wilder in his typical fashion said, that they used to run to hear Thad play! “A very gracious and humble man which made him an even greater human being and musician!” Cecil Bridgewater

Joe Wilder with Bill Charlap, Kenny Washington, Michael Weiss, Rufus Reid, and Mona Heath


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