Interview: Gerald Wilson - JazzWax

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July 20, 2011


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Ray Perry, the saxophonist with the Chick Carter Orchestra, was also a hard-swinging jazz violinist. He later played alto sax and violin with Illinois Jacquet's band, taking solos mostly on the fiddle. Joe Newman says that he played like Charlie Parker, but on three 1944 sides with the Sabby Lewis Sextet (reissued on AB Fable) he sounds like he was more influenced by Stuff Smith.
The drummer with the Edgar Hayes band was Kenny Clarke who joined at age 23 and called it "a most fantastic outfit. It was the university for me..." When Gillespie joined the band he and Clarke became close friends and musical associates. The rest is history.
(Joe Newman's comments were in an interview with Ira Gitler. The Clarke quotation is from an interview with Helen Oakley Dance.)


Ray Perry, the saxophonist with the Chick Carter band, was also a hard-swinging jazz violinist who later played alto sax and was featured on violin with Illinois Jacquet's band. His jazz fiddling can be sampled on three sides cut with the Sabby Lewis Sextet in 1944 and reissued on the AB Fable label.
The Edgar Hayes band was a training ground for Kenny Clarke. When Gillespie joined the band he and Clarke formed a close personal and musical relationship that helped shape the course of jazz.
Horace Silver credits the Lunceford band with his decision to become a musician.
Another fascinating interview with Gerald Wilson can be found in the book "Central Avenue Sounds."

Charles Birkett

Love this guy. I've seen him the last three years at the Detroit Jazz Festival and he's a pleasure to talk to. That a 93 year old living legend with poor eyesight can remember a tubby late 30s Canadian he meets for a few minutes once a year and happily engage with him makes this tubby Canadian get an annual dose of the happies.

His Mack Avenue recordings are consistent delights, too.

Rab Hines

Thank you for another excellent interview.

The generally accepted view is that Lunceford had a Band's band - that they swung as well or better than any other, but that the recorded legacy comes nowhere near capturing what made them the favorite of many musicians. I look forward to hearing what Mosaic has done.

A great band, a classy guy, and a fine interview.


Greg Lee

Mr. Wilson is The Man. He's written so much great music, he hasn't wasted a minute of his 93+ years. Awesome. I was privileged to take his jazz survey course at Cal State Northridge long ago. Every class session was pure joy, since he knew virtually every one of the musicians we studied. Can't get much closer to history than that. Go Gerald!

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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