Born: September 4, 1918 Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor
Back in 1939, Gerald Wilson joined the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra as a trumpet soloist and an arranger. 66 years later, Wilson is still very active, having long been considered one of the top arrangers, composers and big band leaders in the history of jazz. 86 as of this writing, he has lost none of his enthusiasm, skills or creativity, and still manages to sound quite modern.
Throughout his career, Gerald Wilson has received incredible acclaim, including winning the Downbeat International Critics Poll both as a composer/arranger and for his big band, and winning the Paul Robeson Award, the NEA American Jazz Masters Fellowship, and a pair of American Jazz Awards. He has been elected to the Mississippi Jazz Hall of Fame, has had his life's work archived by the Library of Congress and has earned six Grammy® nominations. But his real legacy is his music itself....
The legacy of Gerald Wilson and the Monterey Jazz Festival are closely linked. From his first visits to Monterey in the early 1960's playing and hanging out with Diz and Monk to his commission pieces for our 25th, 40th and now 50th anniversary, Gerald's spirit has infused the festival with his unique brand of artistry, humanity and pure, swingin' fun. Gerald Wilson and the Monterey Jazz Festival have helped create a vibrant and long-lasting west coast musical spirit. It's a great partnership and we are honored to be associated with him! —Tim Jackson, General Manager, Monterey Jazz Festival
Playing with Gerald Wilson is always such a joy and an inspiration, as is hearing the results. … you'll also discover Gerald Wilson the person ... intelligent, wise, full of joy and classy, just like his compositions. —Jon Faddis
“Gerald Wilson is one of the greatest composers and arrangers living today. Monterey Moods, is another example of his genius.” —Kenny Burrell
“Gerald Wilson's longevity with his creativity alone gives testimony to his value as an international treasure.” —Hubert Laws