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Abram Wilson
Abram Wilson, Soweto Kinch & Band Soweto Kinch

Abram Wilson, Soweto Kinch & Band
@ Queen Elizabeth Hall
19 November 2006

Click an image to enlarge.

Abram Wilson biography

Trumpeter/ composer/ bandleader / educator/ actor Abram Wilson died of cancer on 9 June 2013. He continued performing as long as he could, despite acute pain until his last gig in Teignmouth, Devon on May 24.

Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1975, Abram Wilson was raised along with his four brothers and one sister in New Orleans, Louisiana. The eldest of six children, the entire family including mother, Doris Wilson, and father, Willie C Wilson Jr, had some experience in music. Wilson’s first inspiration and introduction to music was at the age of five when listening to his father play the guitar and to recordings which his father would play. Soon after being bought a snare drum for Christmas, Wilson went on to play drums. At nine, Wilson received his first trumpet and after being taught his first note by his mother, he immediately began learning songs from the radio and developing his own method of ear training.

Starting with his first instructor, Lester Wright, Wilson quickly became the most advanced in the class, surpassing many of the older students. At 13, he began to display the ability to lead, and was elected to front his 75-piece school band as drum major. That same year, Wilson auditioned for the New Orleans Center For Creative Arts (NOCCA), a school specialising in jazz and classical music, among other art forms, and responsible for producing artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Harry Connick Jr, Donald Harrison, Delfayo Marsalis, and Nicholas Payton, all of whom graduated from the school. Whilst there Wilson studied under the tutelage of Clyde Kerr Jr, Ronald Benko, Dr Burt Breaud, and band director, Augustus Walker at O Perry Walker Sr High School, all of whom would further shape his musical direction and raise it to a new level. In 1991, Wilson graduated from both schools and was ready to take on new parts of the world.

At 17, Wilson was teaching trumpet privately and soon earned a music scholarship to Ohio Wesleyan University. Here, he studied classical trumpet with Larry Griffin and at 22, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music education, qualifying him to teach both choral and instrumental music from kindergarten to college aged students. Wilson went on to study at the world-renowned Eastman Conservatory in Rochester, New York where he attained his masters, studying jazz performance and composition with Ralph Alessi, Mike Cain, and Fred Sturm, and classical trumpet with Barbara Butler. It was also during this time Wilson became closely involved with Young Audiences, an organization which brought professional artists to schools to perform and conduct workshops for children. Wilson soon found himself performing for groups of up to 250, dealing with subjects like jazz history, groove, music theory, improvisation, and music composition. These workshops proved to be amazingly successful in Rochester, Cleveland and New York and inspired a number of students to pursue careers in music.

Upon graduating from Eastman, Wilson moved to New York where he started his own band incorporating both his vocal and trumpet skills, and continued to promote music education throughout the schools there. By now he was regularly performing with the Roy Hargrove Big Band and with rhythm and blues legend, Ruth Brown, appearing on her “Good Day for the Blues” release in 1999.

Coming to London in 2002, Wilson quickly made links to some of the best artists here and, before long, was booked to appear as part of the Julian Joseph Big Band. A chance meeting with the directors of Dune Records at a jam session at London’s Jazz Café set the wheels in train for Wilson to start working as regular member of various Dune artists’ bands leading to Wilson being signed to the label in late-2003. He appears and currently tours with fellow Dune recording artists: Soweto Kinch on the 2003 Mercury/ MOBO Award winning album, “Conversations With The Unseen; with 2002 Mercury/MOBO Award winner, Denys Baptiste on “Let Freedom Ring!” with soul-jazz vocalist, Juliet Roberts; and the award-winning jazz/ska big band, Jazz Jamaica All Stars.

As well as being an excellent trumpeter, Wilson is also an excellent singer/songwriter whose voice is a finely wrought instrument enabling him to cover all styles of music, from jazz scat to rap, from ballads to boogaloo, RnB to hip hop, reggae and ska to soul. As a composer, he has a broad range of skills, being able to write for string orchestra and big band, as well as small ensembles. He also regularly works with the hip/RnB/soul production team, Seulja, where he primarily undertakes vocal and instrumental arranging.

Wilson is also an experienced music teacher and educator. He was Head of Music at a London school, a post he held for two years and, being keen to maintain his role as an educator.

In 2004, Wilson was appointed Artist In Residence for Tomorrow’s Warriors Ltd – the sister company of Dune specialising in youth jazz education and professional artist development – for the period 2004-2007. This appointment has resulted in Wilson leading on several education projects in the UK and overseas for children and young people.

In 2005, Wilson was nominated for the BBC Award for Best Band and for the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 2005 (along with label mate and saxophonist Soweto Kinch).

In August/September 2005, Wilson was special guest with Soweto Kinch’s band on a 5-date tour of the USA taking in New York (Charlie Parker Festival in Harlem and The Jazz Gallery in Manhattan), Philadelphia (Clef Club), Atlanta (the Montreux Festival in Atlanta), and Chicago (African Festival for the Arts). Due to illness, Kinch was unable to play saxophone and so played piano instead, leaving Wilson to take more of a leading role on the tour. Audiences were clearly impressed as evidenced by the queues to buy his album!

In March 2006, Wilson was appointed Assistant Artistic Director for Tomorrow’s Warriors. Working alongside the Artistic Director, Gary Crosby, Wilson is now responsible not only for the company’s education programme but also for the professional/artistic development of members of the company’s core bands, and the live music programme.

In April 2006, Wilson was pronounced winner of the top prize in the Jazz Category of the prestigious International Songwriting Competition in Nashville, TN beating off competition from almost 1,000 entries from 29 countries with his outstanding track, Monk, taken from his Jazz Warrior album.

Wilson is a performer with astounding drive and energy. He continues to explore new avenues - combining gospel, soul, blues, jazz and hip-hop, producing music with a fresh exciting edge.

Soweto Kinch biography

Born in London, England on 10 January 1978 to a Barbadian father and British-Jamaican mother, Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians to hit the British jazz scene in recent years.

He first became interested in music at the tender age of eight, playing clarinet at primary school. He quickly developed a fondness for the alto saxophone and was given his first instrument when he was nine. After meeting Wynton Marsalis four years later he discovered and became passionate about jazz, first concentrating on piano and later, in his teens, focusing on alto saxophone.

His family had a strong artistic influence on him, his father being a playwright and his mother an actress. Having such a theatrical background exposed him to performance and meant that he was often surrounded by musicians and other artists such as jazz tap dancer Will Gaines and percussionist/bebop vocalist Frank Holder.

Kinch is essentially a self-taught musician who has supplemented his musical education by gathering information from books and transcribing jazz recordings. He has also been fortunate to attract the attention of two of the most important jazz luminaries in Britain, saxophonist Courtney Pine OBE and double bassist Gary Crosby, both of whom are now key mentors. In addition to the alto saxophone, Kinch plays soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, and piano. He also raps and is competent on the computer, using sequencers such as Cubase, Logic Audio, and Sibelius.

Kinch made the practical decision to become a full time musician fairly recently. Graduating from Oxford University in 1999 with a BA in Modern History, he was set to pursue a career in journalism or to undertake post-graduate studies. However, the offer of a place within the core band of Tomorrow's Warriors (the development programme established by Gary Crosby in 1991 to nurture and develop talented young jazz musicians) and with Crosby's professional bands, Jazz Jamaica and Nu Troop persuaded him to choose music as a career path.

Kinch’s musical influences are as broad as they are diverse. He particularly admires Sonny Rollins for his innovative style and successful appropriation of West Indian music within the jazz canon. Most recently, Kinch has been influenced by baroque and early classical music due to an interest he has in the 17th and 18th century black population of Britain. He is keen to reconstruct the African and classical influences that this community would have had.

Kinch made his first appearance on record in October 2001 as a member of the internationally acclaimed Jazz Jamaica All Stars, a 20-piece big band blending jazz with reggae, ska and other Caribbean rhythms.

In July 2002, Kinch won the inaugural White Foundation International Saxophone Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Hot on the heels of this major award, Kinch picked up the prestigious BBC Radio Jazz Award for Rising Star 2002 and, as a member of Jazz Jamaica All Stars, shared in the glory of the BBC Radio award for Best Band 2002.

Kinch is pursuing an interest in Theatre. He completed a commission with NITRO Black Theatre Cooperative in November 2001 for whom he composed a score for ‘Slamdunk’ (performed at The Contact Theatre, Manchester). Similarly, he composed the score for a production in Birmingham, ‘Its Just A Name’ produced by Nu Century Arts (April 2002) and written by his father Don Kinch.

Kinch’s debut album “Conversations With The Unseen” was released in 2003. The album won a Mercury Music Prize for An Album Of The Year and earned him the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 2003. Kinch was also announced as the winner of the Peter Whittingham Award for Innovative Jazz Project the same year.In 2004, Kinch continued international touring and picked up BBC Radio Jazz Awards for Best Band and Best Instrumentalist.

Yet another prestigious award came in November 2004, with Kinch winning the Urban Music Award for Best Jazz Act. All categories of these awards were nominated and voted for online by the public and Kinch received a record number of votes!

Abram Wilson

Abram Wilson

Abram Wilson

Abram WIlson & Soweto Kinch



Abram Wilson - Jazz Warrior Soweto Kinch - A life in the day of B19:  Tales of the Tower Soweto Kinch -  Conversations with the unseen Soweto Kinch - Jazz Planet EP



Click Soweto Kinch's image to view his photographs @ the Love Supreme Jazz Festival 2013,
or the Pizza Express Jazz Club, 8 January 2010...
Click Abram Wilson's album to view photographs and read his review...

Soweto Kinch @ the Love Supreme Jazz Festival 2013 (Click to go to his page) Soweto Kinch @ the PizzaExpress Jazz Club 2010 (Click to go to his page) Abram WIson - Jazz Warrior (Click to go to his page)

Go back to the London Jazz Festival 2006 main page.

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