Joe Lee Wilson
|Joe Lee Wilson|
|Birth name||Joe Lee Wilson|
|Occupations||Musician, bandleader, composer, educator|
Joe Lee Wilson (December 22, 1935 – July 17, 2011) was an American gospel-influenced jazz singer, originally from Bristow, Oklahoma. His voice is best recognized from several Archie Shepp albums recorded for Impulse! Records.
As his band's name, Joy of Jazz, suggests, Wilson's baritone personified the life-affirming nature of jazz and blues. Seeing Billie Holiday perform in 1951 began his interest in a music-industry career. He studied in Los Angeles before touring the West Coast, where he sat in with Sarah Vaughan, and down to Mexico. In New York in the 1960s, he worked with Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, and Jackie McLean; during the 1970s, he operated a jazz performance loft in New York's NoHo district known as the Ladies' Fort at 2 Bond Street. His regular band, Joe Lee Wilson Plus 5, featured the alto saxophonist Monty Waters (from Modesto, California) and for several years the Japanese guitarist, Ryo Kawasaki, before the latter left to lead his own group. Archie Shepp and Eddie Jefferson were frequent collaborators at these sessions.
He also sang with Eddie Jefferson, Freddie Hubbard, and Kenny Dorham. He recorded a live radio program at WKCR-FM, Columbia University, on July 16, 1972, which was released as an album, Livin' High Off Nickels & Dimes, on the short-lived Oblivion Records in New York. Wilson's rendition of "Jazz Ain't Nothing But Soul" was a radio hit on New York jazz radio in 1975.
While based in Paris, Tokyo, and the United Kingdom, he recorded regularly with the American pianist Kirk Lightsey, including the Candid recording Feelin’ Good. One of his last albums was an Italian recording with Riccardo Arrighini and Gianni Basso, Ballads for Trane (Philology W707.2).
- 1969: Without a Song (Inner City)
- 1974: Livin' High Off Nickels & Dimes (Oblivion)
- 1976: Shout For Trane (Whynot)
- 1976: Hey Look at You (East Wind Records) reissue of Without a Song
- 1977: Secrets from the Sun (Sun)
- 1992: Acid Rain (with Kirk Lightsey, Jack Gregg, Sangoma Everett
- 2008: Ballads for Trane (Philology)
- 2008: I Believe (Philology)
With Archie Shepp
- Things Have Got to Change (1971)
- Attica Blues (1972)
- The Cry of My People (1972)
- A Touch of the Blues (Fluid Records, 1977)
- Peter Keepnews (July 22, 2011). "Joe Lee Wilson, a Leader of ’70s Loft-Jazz Movement, Dies at 75". The New York Times.
- Obituary in The Guardian
- Joe Lee Wilson's last public performance, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in November 2010