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Akeem Wilson

I first discovered jazz while incarcerated in Cook County Jail in 1982. During my time there, I learned the intricate rhythms of Brazil, Africa and Pango Pango. After my release I hung out in Bronzeville listening to Bop and Big Band music, where I developed friendships with numerous musicians. After a time, I was allowed to sit in, especially during Latin numbers, on wood block. The drummers, too numerous to name, all were instrumental in my growth. A trumpet player named Rodney “C” took a special interest in me and gave me private lessions for awhile. I am very greatful for all the time spent with those truly talented musicians.

In 1990 I went on tour with the Dave Sizer Big Band and played in many Jazz Festivals on the East Coast. It was while on tour where I fell in with Gary Coleman of TV fame and for the next six months we composed music in preparation for our own tour. In 1991 we began our tour which ended in Las Vegas. We played most of the hotels there for the next two years, with many local and touring musicians sitting in with us.

I went back to Chicago in 1994 and have been playing in all the clubs on Lincoln Avenue, Near North and the South Side since. I had the opportunity to sit in with the Grant Park Symphony, where they performed my composition, titled “Opus for Wood Block”, which was critically acclaimed by the local and national papers. My compositions are being performed nationwide, and have been invited to perform for the White House this summer. I currently am “Composer in Residence” with the Cleveland Jazz Institute, Boise Grand Funk Festival and the New Orleans “Hot Five” Revival Festival. I have since included in my mastery of instruments the chimes, Acoggo bells, and lute.

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