His airy, effortless style, with its emphasis on lightly accompanied right-hand melody, was a key element in the transition from swing to bebop, and many modern jazz pianists took Wilson's approach as their starting point. His early recordings were percussive and forceful, but as he matured his technique became graceful, almost elegant. He was a gifted artist who used the full range of his instrument to his advantage. His recordings with Billie Holiday and Benny Goodman’s trio and quartet during the 1930s are considered classics.
Wilson was born in Austin, TX in 1912, his parents were both schoolteachers. They left Texas in 1918 for positions at the prestigious Tuskegee College in Talladega, AL, one of the pioneer black universities. Wilson studied music at both the Tuskegee Institute and Alabama's Talladega College.
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