Take Five With Dave Wilson
Teachers and/or influences?
I studied with the great saxophonists Joe Lovano, Bill Barron, Ralph Lalama, Glenn Guidone, Tom Stroman, as well as the lengedary guitarist and Philadelphia jazz guru Steve Giordano and unsung pianist Kirk Reese. My main influences as players have been the saxophonists John Coltrane, Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, but also Dexter Gordon (who I caught several times), Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Bud Freeman (who is a big influence on my Trad jazz playing).
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I heard John Coltrane play "My Favorite Things" and rented my first Tenor. Also when I saw the Woody Herman Band play at Disney Land in the early 1973. Also when I saw Dexter Gordon at the Village Vanguard in 1976 I think it was. Also when I saw Sun Ra and then Cecil Taylor at the reopened Five Spot in the West Village in the mid-70's. Those and others were great memories, and fuel for inspiration.
Your sound and approach to music:
My sound, in one regard, is the result of my equipment, my set up. I tend to favor the Selmer Mark VI vintage saxophones for tenor and alto; I play a vintage Yamaha YSS-62RS soprano. I favor the vintage Otto Link metal mouthpieces for the tenor, a New York hard rubber Meyer for alto, and this same old stock Otto Link #7 for soprano that I have been using for the last 15 years. I am slightly indifferent to my sound on alto; more serious about the soprano sound, and a bit fanatical about the tenor sound. The tenor has always been my first love on the saxophone, and I spend enough time experimenting with different mouthpieces, reeds, ligatures, and even horns. I think I have found the one Selmer Mark VI for the tenor, and then another comes along after a year or 2 or 3 or 4.
The sound is also the sum of all my experience with Saxophone, Clarinet, and Flute. I spend a lot of time with the clarinet, it was my first instrument. I play and teach it professionally, and I think it influences my sound. I love the sound and the feel of the clarinet. I have also spent a fair amount of time playing and teaching classical (music) technique on Alto and Tenor and this has some bearing. But I am a big collector and listener (and some time transcriber) of all the greats and also-rans on the jazz saxophone. Each has his (or her) own unique sound; their own personality. When one improvises, composes spontaneously if you well, that which comes out is the cumulative of all your experience with music and the horn.
When I make a CD it is very much a personal statement; of what I am as a saxophonist and musician, and what I am trying to communicate to the audience. I like to write a lot of my own material, or with another person's tune, provide what I hope to be a unique arrangement to it. The process is like an exorcism; it is an arduous yet sweet process, where I am totally consumed for about 3-4 months leading up to the studio time. Especially for this last effort Spiral, where I got the really heavy cats Phil Markowitz, Tony Marino, and Adam Nussbaum; who by the way were so pleasant, encouraging, and helpful in the studio, with their consummate playing and great ideas. But it is me. A real aim of mine is to engage and communicate with the audience while still being true to my own principles.
Your teaching approach:
I do a lot of lessons, have been teaching privately for over 20 years. I try to meet my students halfway, where they are at and not where I would like them to be at. I am not one to shove unrealistic dreams down their throats. So many of my students are just regular kids, who are involved with all sorts of activities, and music is something they do for school or as a hobby, even if they are good. I remember, myself, that I used to play a lot of sports in high school. When I get a real good one, I try to take them as far as they can go, usually with this thing we call jazz or improvised music.
Your dream band:
Dreaming? Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Tyner on Piano, Jaco Pastorius on Bass.
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
I was playing in a disco/funk band in Queens, N.Y. in the late '70s, and for a few weeks we played this one after hours joint in Far Rockaway where we came on at 4:00 and 6:00 in the morning. To get to the place, we drove behind J.F.K. airport through Howard Beach which was "John Gotti" territory. It was at this time that the Lufthansa Robbery occurred out at the airport.
Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia. The most popular spot for live jazz in Philly, with a great audience that helps keep the music alive.
The Belvedere in Lancaster, PA. Where I have been playing once a month since 2000.
Back in the day, The Parkside, on State Street in Harrisburg, PA. We played there 1-3 times a month during the 1990's.