I didn’t expect to do this post, and I would rather not have to do it in this way. I turned on a radio podcast this morning, and heard the presenter annouce the death earlier this month of Abram Wilson, the jazz trumpeter and singer, at the age of just 38.
Now if you’re a jazz fan, you should get used to losing your idols, but this has affected me more than most.
I saw him play in Swansea in about 2005, coming on as a special guest to support his friend Soweto Kinch. I already had Abram Wilson’s UK debut album Jazz Warrior and loved it, so this was a real thrill for me. He played beautifully, with a rich, slightly brassy, joyful tone – surely a heritage of the city of his birth, New Orleans, where, as he told us, ‘every trumpet player can sing’. Which he then did, showing that he could have made it as a soulful jazz singer too.
He helped a wave of new talent on the UK scene in the last decade, breaking new ground by introducing jazz into many musical contexts, and was a tireless campaigner, educator, and supporter of humanitarian causes – a true jazz warrior.
There’s more about him on his website, and in many obituaries – here’s one from the Guardian.
I’ll give a few video links – I gather these don’t always work n the US, but I hope some will. Try them. Buy his records. Remember one of the good guys.
Here he is talking about his life, New Orleans, and playing blues and ballads at a college inTruro:
Here he’s playing Jazz Warrior at a festival in Lithuania in 2005:
Here he’s playing J’espere, the tune he wrote to support those devastated by the earthquake in Haiti:
And here’s a bluesy album track, After the storm:
My sympathies to his family, his many friends, and his very many fans.
4 responses to “Abram Wilson – Jazz Warrior”
A beautiful tribute to a very talented man born the year my #2 son was born, and in the same city. I didn’t know his work till now, and I’m so glad to be introduced to it. J’Espere and After the Storm are my favorites of these, but I will listen for more. I taught for a short time as a substitute drama teacher at NOCCA, where Ellis Marsalis was teaching music. It’s a wonderful school, and many incredible artists have come through it.
Glad you saw this – of course I was thinking of you when Abram was talking about college in New Orleans. I discovered more work of his I didn’t know when looking around for the piece – isn’t it always the way, someone dies and only then do you realise how good they were.
i hadn’t heard of him either – the truro college thing is remarkable – if my maths are right, he is within under two weeks of his death but there is no way you could tell – i was there or thereabouts the following week myself and could easily have seen him at st ives jazz club – more regrets at things not done – it’s a big pile, of course, and growing every day
It looks like a healthy jazz scene in Truro if the course director is involved – or St Ives. There’s still time to see all the other players.