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Gerald Wilson

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Gerald Stanley Wilson (September 4, 1918 – September 8, 2014) was an American jazz trumpeter, big band leader, composer, arranger, and educator.

Wilson was born in Shelby, Mississippi, and went on to graduate from Cass Technical High School in Detroit. Wilson joined the Jimmie Lunceford orchestra in 1939, replacing its star trumpeter and arranger Sy Oliver. While with Lunceford, he contributed numbers to the band’s book, including Hi Spook and Yard-dog Mazurka, the first being influenced by Ellington’s recording of Caravan and latter being a big influence on Stan Kenton’s famous signature tune Intermission Riff. In addition to being a band leader, Wilson has written arrangements for many other prominent artists including Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Julie London, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson and many more.

During World War II, Wilson also performed for a brief time with the U.S. Navy, with musicians such as Clark Terry, Willie Smith and Jimmy Nottingham, among others. Recently (~2005), many of the members of the band reunited as “The Great Lakes Experience Big Band,” with Wilson conducting and Ernie Andrews making a guest appearance at the invitation of Clark Terry. Wilson originally started out as trumpeter and arranger for Jimmie Lunceford. He has also played and arranged for the bands of Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie.

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