The Anthony Wilson profiled here should not be confused with the late British pop/rock producer and A&R man Anthony Howard Wilson (b. February 20, 1950, d. August 10, 2007), who was the founder of Factory Records and was known for his work with New Order, Happy Mondays, and Joy Division, among others. Nor should he be confused with the well-known BBC session producer Tony Wilson or the Vancouver, Canada-based jazz guitarist Tony Wilson. However, this Anthony Wilson is also a jazz guitarist, although he isn't from Western Canada, but rather, Los Angeles -- and his father is the legendary pianist/bandleader/composer Gerald Wilson. This Anthony Wilson followed in his father's footsteps in that he pursued a career in music and made jazz (specifically, hard bop and post-bop) his main focus -- and even though he made a name for himself playing guitar rather than acoustic piano, it is clear that Gerald Wilson's bandleader/arranger perspective rubbed off on his son in a major way. Gerald Wilson is famous not only for his piano playing, but also for leading and arranging bands and for composing; similarly, Anthony Wilson is known for his guitar playing as well as for his arranging, bandleading, and composing skills. Anthony Wilson has cited Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell as major influences on his guitar playing, while pointing to Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Tadd Dameron, Oliver Nelson, and Marty Paich as some of the people who have influenced him as a bandleader and arranger. Ellington was fond of saying that his band was his "instrument," and one of the things Wilson learned from the Duke was the way in which bandleading and arranging can be as important to self-expression as playing an actual instrument. That said, Wilson's considerable skills as a guitarist should not be downplayed.
Wilson was born in Los Angeles on May 9, 1968. Thanks to his father, Wilson acquired a taste for jazz at a young age -- and by the time he was in his mid-teens, he was playing gigs in Southern California with well-known L.A. residents such as drummer Billy Higgins, tenor saxophonist Harold Land, and trumpeter Oscar Brashear. Not long after that, Wilson was playing in his father's band (where he learned a lot about composition and arranging). But eventually, Wilson began to perform and record as a leader. The Californian's self-titled debut album as a leader was released by the L.A.-based MAMA Foundation in 1997 and was followed by a few more MAMA releases, including his 1998 recording Goat Hill Junket and his 1999 session Adult Themes. Wilson moved to Groove Note not long after that, recording Our Gang (an intimate trio date with organist Joe Bagg and drummer Mark Ferber) in 2000 -- and the following year, he started backing jazz singer Diana Krall (who was the top-selling artist on the Verve roster at the time). Wilson's subsequent Groove Note releases included Savivity (a 2005 release), Power of Nine (a 2006 session), and Jack of Hearts (recorded in early 2009). ~ Alex Henderson