Dexter Wansel

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Dexter Wansel
Birth name Dexter Gilman Wansel
Born (1950-08-22) August 22, 1950 (age 64)
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Origin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Soul, Funk, R&B, Disco
Occupation(s) Musician, Producer, Arranger, Songwriter
Instruments Keyboards
Years active 1973–present
Labels Philadelphia International Records
Associated acts Gamble and Huff
Notable instruments
Keyboards

Dexter Gilman Wansel (born August 22, 1950) is an American keyboardist, raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He contributed to the development of the Philly Sound and worked with producers Gamble and Huff at Philadelphia International Records. Wansel led the musical group Yellow Sunshine.[1] He has worked with Phyllis Hyman, The Jacksons, MFSB, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle, The Jones Girls, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Grover Washington Jr. and Lou Rawls, among many others. He also wrote The Jones Girls 1981 soul music song "Nights over Egypt" and Patti Labelle's 1983 #1 R&B hit, "If Only You Knew", with Cynthia Biggs. His "Theme from the Planets" has been sampled and was featured on the breakbeat compilation album, Ultimate Breaks and Beats.

While Wansel was relatively unknown outside the U.S., many have suggested[who?] that his influence on pop music, as both a producer and performer in the mid-1970s, led to the development of new age soul and jazz funk. His most successful album was Life On Mars, released on the Philadelphia International record label in 1976. Wansel played keyboards, Derek Graves played bass guitar while a session singer, Terri Wells, was on vocals. The remaining sound was filled in by Dexter's rhythm section called The Planets featuring Darryl Brown, Calvin Harris, Bobby Malach, Al Harrison and the aforementioned Graves.

During the second half of the 1970s, space travel and sci-fi were important themes in the ambient U.S. culture and therefore in funk, jazz, and jazz funk, and were reflected in Dexter's titles and music.[citation needed] Listening to other tracks on the album, such as "Stargazer", "Theme from the Planets" and "Rings of Saturn", it can be seen that a space theme runs through his music.[citation needed] His "Funk Attack" on the 1979 album Time is Slipping Away and "I'll Never Forget (My Favorite Disco)" have stood the test of time.[citation needed] Instrumental arrangements appeared on his album Voyager (1978). In addition to this he presented a disco theme with "Disco Lights" from the album What The World is Coming To (1977); and jazz funk such as "Latin Love" on Voyager; or "Ode Infinitum" on What The World Is Coming To.[citation needed]

Wansel has produced and recorded many soul ballads including the Time is Slipping Away title track, "New Beginning" on that same album, "The Sweetest Pain" (which was sampled by The Solid Doctor for his trip hop track "Lights On The Vibe", by DJ Cam for his track "Dieu Reconnaîtra Les Siens", and by Global Communication for their track "The Way") and "You Can Be What You Wanna Be" from 1976. Wansel also co-wrote and produced the Pieces of a Dream track, "Warm Weather". The track "Rings of saturn" was sampled by Dela for his track "Long Life" featuring Talib Kweli. Purists consider his "I'm In Love Once Again", released on Philadelphia International Records by Jean Carn in 1976, to be his finest work, combining sublime chord sequences with a lavish production.

Personal life[edit]

Wansel is the father of Grammy-nominated music producer and songwriter Pop Wansel, and a U.S Army Veteran of the Vietnam War era (Taiwan). Most recently he has authored a novel entitled Shortwave, published in 2011.[2]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[3] Record label
US US
R&B
Jazz Albums
1976 Life On Mars 44 Philadelphia International Records
1977 What the World Is Coming To 168 45 24
1978 Voyager 139 37
1979 Time Is Slipping Away 58
2004 Digital Groove World Hotplanet Entertainment
"—" denotes the album failed to chart

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart positions Record label
US US
Soul
[4]
Disco Singles[5]
1976 "Life On Mars" 91 Philadelphia International Records
1977 "Disco Lights" 91

Selected production discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hogan, Ed. "Biography: Dexter Wansel". AMG. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "Shortwave" page, Sage Words Publishing.
  3. ^ "Dexter Wansel US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-08-31. 
  4. ^ "Dexter Wansel US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  5. ^ "Dexter Wansel US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 

External links[edit]