Anthony Wilson

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A stylistically wide-ranging jazz guitarist, Anthony Wilson has drawn praise for his own eclectic albums, and work with artists like Diana Krall, Chris Botti, Michael Bublé, and others. The son of noted trumpeter/bandleader Gerald Wilson, Wilson emerged in the late ’90s playing in his father’s big band, and issued his own nonet albums like 1997’s Grammy-nominated Anthony Wilson, plus soulful trio dates like 2001′s Our Gang. Along with his lucrative work as a sideman, Wilson has continued to evolve, pushing forward his large ensemble on 2006′s Power of Nine, and showcasing his own folk-influenced singer/songwriter compositions on 2016′s Frogtown. Born in 1968 in Los Angeles, Wilson grew up seeing his father’s band play live, but it was his love of Bob Dylan that first inspired him to start playing guitar around age eight. Along with Dylan, he spent much of his youth learning solos by rock guitarists Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. By his teens, he had discovered an eclectic mix of jazz, soul, pop, and R&B music, and was regularly digging deep into Wes Montgomery, T-Bone Walker, Duke Ellington, Ry Cooder, Charles Mingus, and others. He started playing live, gigging around Southern California with well-known L.A. musicians including drummer Billy Higgins, tenor saxophonist Harold Land, and trumpeter Oscar Brashear. He also played in his father’s band, picking up valuable lessons in composition and arranging. After high school, he honed his skills at Vermont’s Bennington College, where he earned his degree in music composition and studied with a pair of noted avant-gardists: trumpeter Bill Dixon and drummer Milford Graves. As a solo artist, Wilson launched his career to some acclaim, winning the Thelonious Monk Institute International Composers’ Award in 1995. Two years later, he made his recorded debut with the nine-piece “little big band” album Anthony Wilson, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Recording. Two more nonet albums followed: Goat Hill Junket in 1998 and Adult Themes in 1999. Also during this period, Wilson found himself in-demand as a session and touring musician, and picked up early credits with Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Loeb, and Vanessa Paradis. Over the years, he has also worked with Chris Botti, Al Jarreau, Norah Jones, Barbra Streisand, Herb Alpert, and Till Bronner, to name a few. The guitarist returned to his own work with three highly regarded trio albums (2001′s Our Gang, 2005′s Savivity, and 2009′s Jack of Hearts), all of which found him exploring Hammond organ-based soul-jazz. He also cultivated a fruitful working relationship with singer/pianist Diana Krall, appearing on 2002′s Live in Paris, 2004′s The Girl in the Other Room, and 2009′s Quiet Nights. Krall also guested on Wilson's 2006 nonet album Power of Nine. Wilson then paired with Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro for 2008′s Nova. Brazilian traditions were also the focus of 2011′s Campo Belo, a lyrical session with clarinetist Joana Queiroz recorded in São Paulo. Also that year, he issued the concert album Seasons: Live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which founds him performing his extended, four-guitarist song cycle alongside Pinheiro, Steve Cardenas, and Julian Lage. In 2016, Wilson released the Mike Elizondo-produced Frogtown, a layered set of original folk- and jazz-influenced compositions that also marked his debut as a singer. Also contributing to the album were drummers Jim Keltner and Matt Chamberlain, violinist Petra Haden, and keyboardists Patrick Warren and Josh Nelson. The following year, he was selected as a MacDowell Colony fellow. The evocative Songs and Photographs arrived in 2019; it found Wilson drawing inspiration from his love of photography. Joining him were a group of esteemed collaborators: pianist Gerald Clayton, percussionist Jay Bellerose, keyboardist Patrick Warren, and bassist Joshua Crumbly. ~ Matt Collar