Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


When the Pupil Is Ready…
Steve Wilson

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The U of M Jazz Studies program is taking full advantage of several artists-in-residence in the 2008-2009 academic year. Saxophonist Jimmy Green has been coaching and teaching students in October, and fellow saxophonist Steve Wilson picks up the torch in November.

Steve Wilson is no stranger to the U of M, or to Winnipeg audiences either. A guest artist at the 2007 U of M Summer Jazz Camp, Wilson has inspired a whole crew of young musicians in this city, and he shared his tremendous talents on stage at the Summer Night Jazz concert as well.

Steve Wilson plays a wicked saxophone. He appears on more than 100 recordings with a broad range of the jazz elite—players like Chick Corea, Dianne Reeves, Mulgrew Miller, and Joe Henderson. He also has several celebrated CDs under his own name. He’s been cited in the alto and soprano saxophone categories of Downbeat polls, and has won acclaim and awards for his playing.

What makes Steve Wilson a special teacher? Kirby points to his extraordinary knowledge base and his openness to learning. “He comes in with this ocean of knowledge, but he comes in so humble that we want to learn from him. It’s as though he’s presenting a body of information that’s in front of us all and he shows us all how to dip into the pool. He doesn’t assume the role of expert, but of fellow learner.”

Wilson has talked about his own inspiring teachers—old-school musicians who offered support and made demands on the bandstand, jazz educators who consolidated and passed along information and strategies, and perhaps especially jazz artists like Chick Corea and Dave Holland who continue to inspire him with their appetite for learning, and their willingness to grow and adventure musically.

He’s already establishing himself as a next-generation mentor, and Winnipeg’s young jazz musicians are keen to absorb more of what he has to offer. He’ll be coaching and teaching during his two-week stint at the U of M. He’ll be holding court on stage too—don’t miss him!

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