Big band leader Gerald Wilson dies aged 96

Trumpeter and band leader Gerald Wilson has died at his home in Los Angeles, four days after his 96th birthday.

Trumpeter and band leader Gerald Wilson has died at his home in Los Angeles, four days after his 96th birthday, his son Anthony has confirmed. Wilson began his career in 1939 joining the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra and went on to work with some of the greatest big band names in jazz including Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. He arranged for singers Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and more. He was known for his rhythmical, choreographic style of conducting believing that was how he brought his arrangements to life and also latterly his distinctive shock of white hair. 

His 75 year career saw him nominated for six Grammys. His harmonies were strong, thick and really put musicians to work and far from a nostalgic sound he continued to be ever more creative and forward thinking right through his advancing years with his orchestra continually performing throughout the last 30 years. Despite his origins in the deep South, Tennessee, Wilson was very involved with music in his home state of California teaching at universities and enjoying a long synonymous association with the Monterey Jazz Festival.

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