Barney Wilen

Barney Wilen - tenor sax

Barney Wilen made a strong impression on the Paris scene in the mid 1950s. Wilen was a self taught player and became one of Europe's best and more modern saxophonists.

Bernard Jean Wilen, AKA Barney was born March 4, 1937, in Nice to a French mother and an American father. He studied the alto and, at 16, moved to Paris where he played with Henry Renaud, Bobby Jaspar and Jimmy Gourley He grew up mostly on the French Riviera; the family left during World War II but returned upon its conclusion.

According to Wilen himself, he was convinced to become a musician by his mother's friend, the poet Blaise Cendrars. As a teenager he started a youth jazz club in Nice, where he played often. He moved to Paris in the mid-'50s and worked with such American musicians as Bud Powell, Benny Golson, Miles Davis, and J.J. Johnson at the Club St. Germain. He was very fortunate to tour and record with Miles Davis in 1957. This led to him performing on the soundtrack to the Louis Malle film “Lift to the Scaffold” in 1957. The recording won the Prix Louis Delluc the next year.

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