Steve Wilson. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com hide caption

toggle caption
John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Steve Wilson.

John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Live At The Village Vanguard

Steve Wilson & Wilsonian's GrainWBGO

Steve Wilson Quartet In Concert At The Village Vanguard - 03/24/2010

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125076907/125169652" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

For many years, Steve Wilson has made a living as a "first-call" alto and soprano saxophonist. That is, he's a first-choice musician for tons of acclaimed bandleaders: Christian McBride, Maria Schneider, Dave Holland, Mulgrew Miller, Chick Corea, Buster Williams and so forth. He spent much of last year with the 70th-anniversary Blue Note Records band, and even took a few gigs with classical-music ensembles presenting works for strings and saxophone.

Of course, being called so often leaves little time to call others for your own projects. That was thankfully untrue when Wilson played a week at New York's Village Vanguard with his newest quartet, itself composed of first-call musicians. NPR Music and WBGO presented and archived a live video webcast and on-air broadcast of Wilsonian's Grain live from the Village Vanguard during the group's Wednesday night early set.

It's hard to describe Steve Wilson's style; he's made his career on being a complete musician, technically and imaginatively. (In order to fit into so many bands, he plays alto sax, soprano sax, multiple flutes and a clarinet.) More accurate would be to say that he's a musician of honesty within the vast field of mainstream post-bop, but never constrained by its parameters. With him were a group of old friends who are also on many a musician's speed-dial: pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Bill Stewart.

In a set alternately swung hard and delicately shaped, Wilson called a generous helping of standards. None of them strayed far from the melody, but all of them were tastefully put. Of the originals his group played, bassist Okegwo contributed the highlight, with a beautiful slow chart called "For You."

Wilson arrived in New York in 1987; the next year, he was already on the road with Lionel Hampton. The city's top musicians quickly learned of his talents, and he now appears on more than 100 commercial recordings. Since 1991, he's also found time to record seven albums of his own. Wilsonian's Grain remains undocumented on disc, though not on tape; in addition to this live recording, its October 2008 debut gig was recorded for air on NPR's JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.

It had been less than a year since Wilson last led a group at the Village Vanguard: an entirely different quartet co-led by pianist Michael Wolff, Chip Jackson and Victor Lewis. He also visited the club with Christian McBride's Inside Straight last fall — NPR Music and WBGO recorded that show, as well. In other words, he's no stranger to the place, no matter who calls whom for the gig.

Set List
  • "All The Things You Are" (Kern)
  • "Input" (Wilson)
  • "For You" (Okegwo)
  • "Chelsea Bridge" (Strayhorn)
  • "Strike Up The Band" (Gershwin)
  • "Q-B-Rab" [Theme] (Wilson)
Personnel
  • Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones
  • Orrin Evans, piano
  • Ugonna Okegwo, bass
  • Bill Stewart, drums
Credits
  • Josh Jackson, producer and host
  • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
  • Josh Webb, recording assistant
[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Trudy Pitts performs on this week's Piano Jazz. Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Trudy Pitts On Piano Jazz

The organist performs Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" with Marian McPartland in this 1992 session.

Trudy Pitts On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515756064/515756319" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Barry Harris is featured in this episode of Piano Jazz. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Barry Harris On Piano Jazz

The seminal jazz pianist and educator joined host Marian McPartland in the fall of 2002.

Piano Jazz: 2/3/2017

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/513227454/513227735" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Loston Harris. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Loston Harris On Piano Jazz

The singer and pianist performs "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" with host Marian McPartland.

Loston Harris On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/507397417/507539522" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

André Previn. Harald Hoffmann/Deutsche Grammophon hide caption

toggle caption Harald Hoffmann/Deutsche Grammophon

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

André Previn On Piano Jazz

The conductor, composer and pianist plays a special treatment of "Stormy Weather" in a 1990 session.

André Previn On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/506487969/506720784" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Patti Wicks. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Patti Wicks On Piano Jazz

Hear the pianist and singer join Marian McPartland for a duet version of "Body And Soul."

Patti Wicks On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/505874280/505875288" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Grover Washington, Jr. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

The Grammy-winning saxophonist plays Duke Ellington standards with host Marian McPartland in 1994.

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/504956273/504956800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top