I caught up with LA jazz composer and keyboard artist Chris Wilson this past weekend in Burbank. Over a late breakfast between gigs, he eschewed the coffee, and left the hang-tag on the new emerald-green Converse high-tops he was wearing.
In short, he's an original.
His band is called THIRST, and the mode is progressive jazz. His latest CD, SOUL SEARCHIN', shimmers with bright, spiritually spacious melodic passages that sinuously fold into lustrous shadow, like the massive metallic drape of a bottle-top textile by El Anatsui. Often the compositions begin as uptempo declarations, then resolve with a tantalizing feeling of mystery, taking us from sunny pop inward to something deeper.
When he's not writing and performing his own work, Wilson gigs around town with a funk band, and also at the jello-shot-drenched dueling piano bar, Howl at the Moon/Hollywood in Universal City. His discography includes keyboards for Knagui Giddins, "The Meaning of Love", Rita Marie Valle, "Delight", and Reginal Paul "Perfect Thing."
Last month at the HAL (Heroes and Legends) Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Wilson played for icons Chaka Kahn, Ray Parker, Jr., Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett.
What's most defining is the contemporary edge that Wilson brings to his phrasing and delivery, even when handling the classics. The artist comments, "My band THIRST and I played a couple of covers the other night, and 'My Funny Valentine' felt like an out-of-body experience." He'll bring his signature lyricism to TASTE OF SOUL Los Angeles, Saturday, October 19, on Crenshaw Boulevard between Stocker and Rodeo.
PHOTO OF CHRIS WILSON BY VIVIAN SANTEZ