THE PATIENT PURSUIT OF BEAUTY: JOE WILDER PLAYS A BALLAD (June 2008)

What is a trumpet (flugelhorn, trombone, and so on) after all except an unforgiving collection of metal tubing through which an idealist propels warm vibrating air? But Joe Wilder could make this hardware-store-in-a-velvet case sing with the delicate intensity of the most touching singer, emotive and expert at once. I had heard him on recordings, but did not meet him until 2004, and it is true, as Roswell Rudd told me, “You play your personality.” Joe’s personality was a gracious warm embrace: of the melody, of the possibility of song, of the audience — and everyone felt it. Here Joe is warmly accompanied by Steve Ash, piano; Yasushi Nakamura, string bass; Marion Felder, drums. The occasion was a “Harlem in the Himalayas” concert organized by Loren Schoenberg, held at the Rubin Museum in New York City in June 2008. I was in the first or second row with my digital recorder, and you can hear the result now. Such beauty:

He was the most rare of gentlemen, and it was a deep privilege to know him, for he greeted the most casual acquaintance as a new dear friend, in the most genuine way. And every note was a friend as well.

May your happiness increase!

2 responses to “THE PATIENT PURSUIT OF BEAUTY: JOE WILDER PLAYS A BALLAD (June 2008)

  1. DAN MORGENSTERN

    Thanks for that reminder of as you say, a beautiful musician and man. Highly recommended if you can find it is Ed Berger’s biography of Joe, with a marvelous discography with solo IDs on tons of obscure records. Ed and Joe were both great photographers, and shared deep friendship with Benny Carter. A couple of verbal notes about Joe, both in the book: His experiences as a Black man in the Marines, and his courtship of a Swedish girl her parents were not happy about, so Joe taught himself Swedish and corresponded with them, of course winning them over. It was Ed’s last book, find it if you can, Scarecrow Press might still have… Keep those great things coming, Michael…

    >

  2. That beautiful book, SOFTLY, WITH FEELING, is online at low prices: a triumph of scholarship, prose, and empathy.

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