Last week I photographed jazz trumpeter, big band bandleader, composer and arranger Gerald Wilson. He was being presented an award at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual jazz concert by Rep. John Conyers. In a room full of jazz lovers, I'm pretty sure I was the only one who had no idea who he was or any inkling of what to expect. But I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.
The work was already done. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra played songs that he'd arranged and composed years ago. That night, Gerald Wilson was sans any instrument and served as conductor and lead storyteller. I was mesmerized by the way this 92 year-old-man moved his hands, feet and body in sync with every sound that sang from the pit. Naturally, he knew every note that played and what section of the band it was being played from. I couldn't find a YouTube clip that does his energy and passion justice, but here's a sample. Shout out to his jazz roots...they run deep.