All posts tagged: Teddy Wilson

The elegant swing of Teddy Wilson

For the final Saturday Soundtrack post of April, I’m going to recognize Jazz Appreciation Month by highlighting my father’s favorite jazz musician: the elegant pianist Teddy Wilson. Wilson was born in 1912 in Austin, Texas, but moved at age six with his parents to the famed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. His father was the head of the English Department while his mother later became the school’s head librarian. Wilson began his musical instruction at Tuskegee, where he studied not only the piano, but also violin, oboe, and clarinet. Around 1930, when playing music in Toledo, Ohio, Wilson met the great Art Tatum and the two played together often during that period. Wilson eventually moved to New York City, with the encouragement of jazz supporter John Hammond, and went on to join Benny Goodman‘s band. It was with Goodman and drummer Gene Krupa that Wilson became the first African American to play in a racially mixed, high profile musical group in the United States. Wilson performed with Goodman, off and on, for many years, including for …

Train Travel, 78 RPMs, Chiggers, and Other Memories of Cleaning Out a House

I took a day off from work today to be with family in Tennessee.  My father – who earlier this year celebrated his 90 birthday – is transitioning from living in his home of the past 26 years to living in an independent living facility. (The home he is leaving is not to be confused with “The Old Home Place” aka 407 E. Main Street, where I spent my formative years from junior high through college.) My two sisters and a brother who live nearby have handled most of the details of the move, and Daddy now spends much of his time with my sister Debbie and her husband Mark as he waits for his new apartment to become available. However, before I was able to focus on family I had work to do along Music Row in Nashville, and I found myself at one of our Historic Hotels of America, the Union Station Hotel on Broadway. I’ve told the story before, but it is so good it bears repeating again. My parents were part …

Time Out – For More Albums for a Desert Island

This is album #3 that I’d want on my iPod on a desert island (see the earlier two posts below), and it is the only pure jazz album on my list. Growing up, my brother Steve was the jazz fan and my father had always enjoyed Teddy Wilson (one of the two pieces he could play on the piano was “Body and Soul” in the Wilson style.)  I grew up  listening to rock and then gravitated to acoustic folk which led me to bluegrass, Celtic, Americana, blues, and the like.  I wanted to listen to music I could play, and I never stayed with the piano or guitar long enough to be a jazz player.  But I’ve always enjoyed the music and have a healthy sampling on my iPod – everything from a lot of Miles Davis to a lot of Oscar Peterson. Time Out was the first jazz album that really caught my ear, and that’s the reason it is on my top five list.   I was captivated by the changes in time signature and rhythm.  It all …