Tribute to Trumpet Great John Wilson
John Wilson, who played trumpet with some of jazz's legendary performers for 25 years then brought his considerable talent and credentials to Duquesne's Mary Pappert School of Music in 1972, will be honored this month as he finishes his last semester at the university.
A Musical Tribute to Dr. John Wilson will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 21 in the Duquesne Union Ballroom. The celebration features dinner and performances by The Chuck Spatafore Little Big Band; Joe Negri; vocalist Maureen Budway; pianist David Budway; tenor saxophonists Enrique "Rick" Torcaso, Eric DeFade and Don Aliquo, Jr.; brothers guitarist Marty and trombonist Jay Ashby; and The John Wilson Big Band. The Duquesne University Jazz Ensemble will perform a retrospective of Wilson's arrangements, including a piece composed by Mike Tomaro (associate professor and chair of Duquesne's jazz studies program) when he was Wilson's student in 1983.
Wilson, an adjunct professor of music and director of the Duquesne University Jazz Ensembles, developed a jazz studies curriculum for the university in 1975-the first ever in Pennsylvania. Wilson served as director of jazz studies at Duquesne through 1997.
"His arrangements and compositions are some of the most beautiful things you'd ever want to hear," said WDUQ-FM's Tony Mowod, who will serve as the evening's master of ceremonies. "He has influenced many musicians and many students."
Prior to joining Duquesne, Wilson worked for 25 years in New York City in a successful career that included all aspects of performance-large and small jazz ensembles, television, radio, movies, recordings and Broadway theatre. He performed with the Benny Goodman and Sauter-Finnegan Orchestras, and recorded with those groups as well as with Gerry Mulligan, Bobby Brookmeyer, Phil Woods and Jimmy Raney. He earned arranging credits with Nancy Wilson, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Orchestra, John Scofield and Tony Williams. In addition, Wilson wrote the score Indigo in Motion, a tribute to Billy Strayhorn, which was performed by the Pittsburgh Ballet in 2000 and 2002.
Wilson also contributed arrangements for the Grammy-nominated A Nancy Wilson Christmas, and his arrangement Day In, Day Out for Wilson is featured on the current National Endowment for the Arts tribute to jazz masters. Currently, he's writing a textbook on jazz arranging and orchestration with Tomaro.
Tickets to A Musical Tribute to Dr. John Wilson are $25. For more information, call 800.456.8338.
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.