Anita Brown


Anita's Blog

The Leading Edge: Steve Wilson, Unedited

Who were your earliest influences as a lead player before you turned thirty?

Steve Wilson:   Some of my teachers introduced me to Johnny Hodges and Marshall Royal.  They became a reference for me during my first year in college.  Around the same time I became aware of Jerome Richardson and Jerry Dodgion’s work in the Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra.

            I moved to New York at the age of 26 and had a chance to perform with Dick Oatts and Jerry Dodgion in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.  They were a big influence on me and I continue to learn from them.  They both lead by example.

            In 1983 I met Kenny Garrett when he was playing the lead chair in the road show of Sophisticated Ladies.  They came through Virginia and I played with him.  I hung out with him at his hotel.  We would go to the basement to jam and he was playing all these out notes.   But he was a total, professional musician.  I remember seeing him do long tones and exercises; practicing fundamentals.  I thought, “Ah, he’s getting his foundation together…”  It showed me that you’ve got to be on top of things even when you’re on the road and that he is a serious musician who is not just about improvising solos.  It’s about learning the instrument.  Kids are always surprised to hear that Kenny Garrett plays long tones and exercises.

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