NEA Jazz Master Gerald Wilson

Legendary NEA Jazz Master Gerald Wilson, often considered one of the top composers, arrangers, and Gerald_wilson_3 band leaders in the history of jazz, will be bringing a lifetime’s worth of work in jazz to Jazz Port Townsend this summer.

Wilson has been behind some of the biggest names in jazz, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles, and Ella Fitzgerald. In the 1960s he almost single-handedly integrated the Los Angeles Musicians’ Union, and he played at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights rallies in Los Angeles.

Throughout his career, Wilson has received considerable acclaim, winning countless awards, having his life’s work archived by the Library of Congress, and garnering multiple Grammy nominations.

Bron in Shelby, Mississippi, in 1918, Wilson got his started in Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra as a trumpet player. He played with the Count Basie Orchestra and in 1950 joined the Dizzy Gillespie big band, as a trumpet player and arranger. He became particularly famous in the jazz world through a number of classic big band recordings in the 1960s. 

Wilson will be leading this year’s Festival All-Star Big Band, in the mainstage performance at McCurdy Pavilion on Saturday, July 28, following sets by Joe Locke (with Bruce Forman, Chuck Deardorf, and Jon Wikan), and Roberta Gambarini (with Tamir Hendelman, John Clayton, and Joe LaBarbera).