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Willie Wilson

       
"He's terrific."
                            -Wayne Andre

 


   Minor Mishap

Dedication 

Willie Wilson has been called the "forgotton trombonist".  He recorded only once, and then died.  Fortunately, this one recording is still in print, demonstrating the timelessness of this session. 

This recording has never been released under Willie Wilson's name, even though this was Willie's session. His death shortly after this recording, and other factors delayed the release of this recording for several years.  It was first released as:

  • "Minor Mishap" by Freddie Hubbard
  • It has recently been released under Duke Pearson's name as "Dedication".
  • A few tracks appear on "The Original Jazz Masters Series Vol. II". This session was recorded in the early 60's. Wilson died in 1963.  Musicians on the track include:  
    Freddie Hubbard, Trumpet, 
    Willie Wilson, Trombone 
    Pepper Adams, Baritone Sax 
    Thomas Howard, Bass 
    Duke Pearson, Piano 
    Lex Humphries, Drums 

The only information that I have found about Wilson is some rather brief information in liner notes, and one reference in Down Beat magazine article where it mentions that he replaced Curtis Fuller in the Benny Golson Jazztet for a brief period. (New information has been added at the bottom of this page.)

Wilson was also a member of the Dizzy Gillespie big band, but never recorded with the band.

Willie's recorded solos are superb. Wayne Andre said to me that he thought that, "...Willie's playing was terrific."  Had he lived he surely would have received wide recognition. )

I consider his solos on the tracks "Time After Time", "The Nearness of You" and "Blues for Alvina" to be among the best trombone solos of all time. His playing is in a bluesy JJ/Fuller vein but with his own unique voice.  I first came across Willie's playing on a track on the Jazz Masters boxed set. The credits listed this track as Hubbard's. Upon further reading I found out that it was a Willie Wilson recording session. 

According to liner notes from "Minor Mishap", "This record date was originally made for the Jazzline label for release under Willie Wilson's name. Possibly the company had plans to develop Wilson as a name artist but sadly he died in1963." (Alan Morgan)

The great jazz trumpet player Willie Thomas mentions Will Wilson from his army days back in the early 50's:

"Later that afternoon, I was in my new barracks and I heard the mother load of jazz coming from the next building. When I entered the room, there were a dozen or so cats with horns and a rhythm section, Wynton Kelly, piano, George Joiner, aka, Jamil Nassar, bass and Dick Fisher drummer, all members of the Special Service Unit attached to the 3rd Army band. Also in that unit was Duke Pearson arranger, Louis Smith trumpet and Silly Willie Wilson, trombone. They told me to go get my horn, I did and when I returned to play another delicious golden apple was there before me, and bite I did! I might add a note of interest, the First Sergeant of that Special Service unit was Leonard Nemoi, aka Dr. Spock."

I recently asked Willie Thomas if he had anything else that he could say about Wilson and he provided the following:

"Hi David Yes, I remember “Silly Willie” Wilson as he was often called by his friends in those days. He wasn’t stationed at Ft McPherson during most of the time I was there. I think he might have finally been transfered there at the end of his draft time. I remember jamming with him at an all black VFW club when he would come to Atlanta on occasional weekends. He was a killer player and everyone always tried to get him into the HQ band in Atlanta when Wynton was there. He might have finally gotten there while Phineas Newborn was there. That was about when I left. Willie was a really a nice, somewhat shy,but funny as hell super soul R.I.P Brother Wilson."

I received an email from Bruce M. stating: "I recently did an interview with Atlanta R&B legend, Little Tommy Brown, and he mentioned the members of his band included a trombone player called Willie Wilson."

Here is a link to an article that reports his sad death.

 If anyone has any more information about this fine "forgotten trombonist" please email me.