Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Howard Wiley is the type of person who exemplifies the word “character” from both sides of the spectrum…by having it, and by being one. Always willing to take the music or the conversation to the next level, it’s rare to end the music, or the conversation, without a smile on your face.
Born in Berkeley, California, Howard Wiley displayed the seeds of his musical talent at a very young age. Wiley found himself playing in the most nurturing of all environments for young African American musicians; the church. Throughout the history of jazz, the church has been root and center of the community, giving musicians, worshipers, and preachers alike the freedom and comfort to express themselves in the celebration of life. Wiley’s music is a direct reflection of his youth which gives his music a level of simplicity, honesty and integrity. He has developed into a very complete artist in the sense that he possesses a great awareness of the past while he continues to make statements and ask questions into the future.
Wiley has recorded and performed with the likes of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Dayna Sean Stephens, Lavay Smith, and Norman Brown as well as receiving numerous awards and accolades from the Thelonious Monk Institute, including MVP honors for the Grammy All- American Jazz Band and the Berklee College of Music Scholarship Award. At the age of 15, Wiley released his first c.d. as a leader, signaling the arrival of the San Francisco Bay Area’s newest diamond in the rough. Wiley has since released his second c.d. titled “Twenty First Century Negro”, and is currently in the studio working on his third outing.
On experiencing Wiley in a live setting, journalist Drew Foxman writes, “With a debonair, untailored stroll, Howard Wiley stepped on stage, donning a freshly pressed peach suit. He befitted this dignified presence by displaying his deep reverence for the musicians with whom he was collaborating, unmasking the persona of an unassuming leader. This is a musician who understands his place, not only in an ensemble, but in the history of music. This humility, though, translates into downright explosiveness on the bandstand.”
As a member of Lavay Smith’s band, and gigging in the New York scene, Howard Wiley has been seen and heard all over the country. The Los Angeles Times writes, “The soloing from Howard Wiley is first rate.” Dan Quolette of Down Beat Magazine says, ““Much has been written about the twenty-something crew of musicians heralded as the new keepers of the jazz flame. Well make way for a representative of the next generation”. And Lavay Smith adds, “Howard Wiley is the future of jazz...he knows the history of jazz and uses his knowledge to create his own unique and exciting style.”