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  Joe Wilder: Among Friends (ES-106)
  The trumpet master celebrates his 80th birthday.
Among Friends Selected for NY Times "Album Showcase," June 11, 2003.
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About This CD

Joe Wilder turned eighty on February 22, 2002, an occasion marked by celebrations at the Arbors Records "March of Jazz" party in Clearwater, Florida, at the "Jazz in July" series at New York's 92nd Street Y, and at two tribute concerts: at the Smithsonian in March and at Lincoln Center in August. Best of all, Wilder himself performed at all these events in the same inimitable style that has been captivating audiences and fellow musicians since the late 1930s. For his third Evening Star release, we decided to continue the celebration in the studio by gathering some of Joe's favorite musicians to play with him in various combinations. The repertoire consists of pieces Joe likes to play but has never had the chance to record, including some of the finest examples of the American popular songbook.

Of the guest artists, Frank Wess and Joe have been friends since the early 1940s. Joe, who was with the Philadelphia-based Harlem Dictators at the time, recalls meeting Frank in Annapolis where the saxophonist was working with Jimmy Golden's band. Later, they were colleagues in Count Basie's orchestra. Joe has known Bucky Pizzarelli since the 1950s when both became stalwarts in the New York studios. Warren Vaché and Joe have a mutual admiration society going back two decades. They have conducted clinics and have played together at many jazz parties through the years. "Joe is my idol," Warren says. "When I grow up, I want to be just like Joe Wilder!"

Bill Charlap and Russell Malone are more recent but no less compatible associates who obviously share Joe's musical philosophy, especially where melody is concerned. The quintet and sextet tracks include pianist Chris Neville and bassist Steve LaSpina, distinctive soloists and sensitive accompanists who comprise two-thirds of Benny Carter's most recent regular rhythm section. They are joined by drummer Chuck Redd, a Wilder favorite and fellow member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

The personnel on the final track evolved in a most unusual way. While Joe and Bucky Pizzarelli were running through Joe's line on "Lady Be Good," bassist Jerry Bruno and drummer Joe Cocuzzo walked into the studio for a later session with a singer. They couldn't resist joining in. Bucky then spied his friend Skitch Henderson, who had dropped by to visit. "You be Basie!" the guitarist called out, directing Skitch to the piano, and suddenly the duo had become a quintet and a truly impromptu jam had been captured in the studio.

One note on "Centerpiece": Harry "Sweets" Edison used this blues as a set-closer that culminated in a hilarious monologue enumerating his own not inconsiderable virtues. Sweets was close to everyone on this session, and this track is dedicated to his memory.

Total Time:
63:32 minutes
August 23, 24, and September 16, 2002 at Nola Studios, New York City
Joe Wilder (trumpet/flugelhorn), Warren Vaché (cornet), Frank Wess (tenor sax/flute), Chris Neville, Bill Charlap, Skitch Henderson (piano), Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Steve LaSpina, Jerry Bruno (bass), Chuck Redd, Joe Cocuzzo (drums)
Indiana (Wilder, Wess, Neville, Laspina, Redd); My Romance (Wilder – Malone, duet); Secret Love (Wilder – Charlap, duet); Seventy-Six Trombones (Wilder, Wess, Neville, Laspina, Redd); How Are Things In Glocca Morra? (Wilder – Pizzarelli, duet); Only Trust Your Heart (Wilder, Wess, Neville, Laspina, Redd); When I Fall In Love (Wilder – Charlap, duet); It’s You Or No One (Wilder, Vaché, Neville, Laspina, Redd); You Are The Sunshine Of My Life (Wilder – Pizzarelli, duet); Centerpiece (Wilder, Vaché, Wess, Neville, Laspina, Redd); What Now, My Love? (Wilder – Malone, duet); People Time (Wilder – Neville, duet); Lady Be Good (Wilder, Pizzarelli, Henderson, Bruno, Cocuzzo)

Sound Clips


"My Romance"

"When I Fall in Love"

"It's You or No One"

"Play all songs (low bandwith)"

"Play all songs (high bandwith)"


...this set really grew on me as the tracks progressed though the CD player. First, Joe Wilder and his friends are masters...capable of making the best music under any circumstances. Second, this collection does what “light” jazz rarely accomplishes – it swings. Like the “old fashioned” way. Third, it’s all acoustic. Every bar sounds natural, played by a human being with feelings and sympathies, instead of being laundered through transistors and silicone. ...the interplay between Wilder and Vache’ is like eavesdropping on two old friends who are so glad to be with one another that you are glad to just be there with them.

-- Russ Shor, VJM

Wilder proves he still has what it takes... Enjoy this one and celebrate a fine brass man playing good music with an excellent cast... Very enjoyable...

-- Geoff Burdett, Crescendo and Jazz Music

Copyright © 1996-2005 Evening Star Records, Edward Berger

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