Primary Instrument: Guitar
Jazz guitarist/composer Blake Wilner was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1973 and has been based in London since 1999. Before moving to the UK, Wilner spent time in New York where he studied with jazz greats Rufus Reid, Richie De Rosa, Mick Goodrick, Kenny Wessell and Jeff Ciampa. His time in New York inspired his 2000 album of original compositions, A Thought of NYU for which he was awarded an ARTSWA grant to record. Wilner's second album, The Bookshop, was released in 2002 and featured music composed and inspired whilst living in London. In 2003 and 2004 he led the quartet on highly acclaimed Arts Council of England sponsored tours of the UK, the second of which promoted the UK release of his third recording The Reprieve. Subsequently this CD reached the finals of the Sony International Jazz Competition for independent recordings. His third UK tour is scheduled for November/December 2006. In 2005, Wilner performed extensively as a freelance musician and made a return visit for two months to New York. He composed extensively during this period which led to the subsequent recording of the quartets fourth CD, Interloper. To be released in June 2006.
In 2004 he was a finalist in the Jerwood/PRS Foundation Initiative and in APRAs Performance Development Awards. He was also selected to feature on a 2005 compilation of prominent Western Australian musicians (across all genres).
The quartet was featured on May 2004's Jazzwise compilation CD of Cheltenham Jazz Festival artists and Wilner was featured in a Jazz Review article entitled 'Ten musicians you must hear'. Wilner’s compositions have many stylistic influences: swing, groove, minimalism, through composition and pop and include arrangements of contemporary pieces by artists such as Bob Marley and Tom Waits. The quartet has been featured at such renowned festivals as the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the Greenwich Jazz Festival and the City of London Festival and has performed extensively throughout the UK. Since arriving in London Wilner has also performed widely as a freelance musician with numerous renowned musicians.
In 1998 he worked with the Western Australian edition of the Graham Collier Orchestra, and also performed with - among others - Ernie Watts, James Morrison and Wilber Wild, playing at popular Australian festivals and venues whilst a member of the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra. Wilner also worked with a pit orchestra in Perth and was involved with the performance and recording of locally produced musicals.
He has a Certificate of Music from both the Australian Institute of Music, and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and an Associate Degree of Music for jazz performance from WAAPA. He holds teaching positions at the London Contemporary College of Music, Kingston University and the Blackheath Conservatoire.