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Meet Jerome Wilson

Meet Jerome Wilson
AAJ Staff BY

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I currently live in:

Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC with my five cats, Chloe, Panther, Donovan, Felicia, and Gabriel.

I joined All About Jazz in:

2016

Why did you decide to contribute to All About Jazz?

I was a reader and fan of All About Jazz and I admired the eclecticism and global reach of its coverage. I wanted to see if my writing would fit in here.

How do you contribute to All About Jazz?

I write reviews of recordings, both singly and sometimes in groups.

What is your musical background?

I played violin through junior high school. I did not actively play after that but I have had a interest of all kinds of music my entire life. I had been exposed to jazz through television when I was small, but I got into the more complex and jazz-influenced types of rock in the '60s and explored that for many years, circling back to pure jazz in the '80s when Verve, OJC and Blue Note were starting their massive reissue programs ECM was gaining strength and Black Saint and other small labels were thriving.

I began to write about music in high school for the school paper where my teacher praised me for a review I wrote of Blood, Sweat and Tears' New Blood album. I went on to write for several small local papers and finally went national writing for Option Magazine, where I did features on the Rova Saxophone Quartet and the Willem Breuker Kollektief, in addition to reviews. In 1990, I began writing for Cadence Magazine and contributed there for over twenty years.

What was the first record you bought that you would still listen to today?

There are two, the second self-titled album by Steve Winwood's band Traffic and Sun Ra's Space Is The Place on the Blue Thumb Label.

Aside from jazz, what styles of music do you enjoy?

I try listening to just about everything. You would probably get a better idea of my tastes if I name a few of my favorite non-jazz artists: Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Sandy Denny, Steeleye Span, Alice In Chains, Neil Young, Joy Division, Lou Reed, King Crimson, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Ray Charles, De La Soul, Donovan, The Grateful Dead, etc. I do not listen to as much classical music as I would like, but some knowledge of it filters in from much of the jazz I hear. Also I do not keep up that well with current artists, but a few I like are Angel Olson, Paul Weller, Lana Del Rey and Elbow.

What are you listening to right now?

A collection of George Russell's early albums from 1956 to 1964 and Splintered Stories by the Spike Orchestra.

Which five recent releases would you recommend to readers who share your musical taste?

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling, John Zorn's and Jesse Harris' Songs For Petra, a beautiful showcase for the voice of Petra Haden, House Of Mirrors by a haunting young singer named Kristiana Roemer, Black & White Raga by Group Sounds Four & Five, a recently unearthed piece of '60s British jazz history and Daring Mind, a striking new orchestral CD I just got by composer Jihye Lee.

What inspired you to write about jazz?

I always want to let people know about the gorgeous and fascinating things I hear in this music. I especially like discussing artists I have discovered who are not well-known even in the jazz world.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies?

For one thing, I continue to proselytize for jazz through a radio show I do on Tuesday afternoons on a local cable and internet station called The Outer View. which I also upload to the Mixcloud website and my Facebook page. I play jazz there for two hours, sometimes building shows about different types of players like pianists, vocalists or saxophonists or sub-genres like jazz-rock, jazz and poetry and jazz written for movies and TV.

In the non-music world, I am also an avid movie watcher. Some of my favorite genres are silent comedy, Japanese samurai movies, classic animation and film noir. I have not been to a theater since the pandemic hit, obviously, but Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Channel give me so much to watch I don't miss going out. I intend to renew my Netflix subscription one day and catch up on things like Ma Rainey's Black Bottom but I'm in no hurry for that. I'm also a big fan of British TV mystery series like Midsomer Murders, Vera and Death In Paradise and a related New Zealand series, The Brokenwood Mysteries.

What role does jazz music play in your life?

When clubs were open, it was a great vehicle for getting out and meeting people. But even in today's circumstances, Jazz is one of the major things that makes my life interesting. There is always something to explore in this music, whether it's a brand new instrumental voice or musicians finding new ways to combine sounds or digging into the past to discover things I'd never heard before, be it from the "cool jazz," swing or bebop eras or even further back, In addition the time and effort I spend working on my reviews for AAJ and my radio show gives a focus and purpose to my daily life.

How does writing about jazz contribute to the music itself?

For me the best music writing gives the reader an idea of the artist's sound and makes one eager to hear the actual music. It gives a context to the work and possibly gives insight into the musician's purpose and methodology.

What do you like most about All About Jazz?

The way the website tries to cover all aspects and tangents of the music and shines a light on little-known artists. I've bought a few CDs by people I've discovered here myself.

What positives have come from your association with All About Jazz?

The view totals on my reviews tell me people are reading my work. Also I enjoy the fact that several musicians themselves have reached out to me and asked me to consider their releases. I also appreciate the friendly relationships I've built with the publicists who regularly send me music to review.

Vinyl, CD or Streaming?

I know streaming is the inevitable future, but I'm old enough to still appreciate the sensations of handling a physical CD. They are also the most convenient way to play music on my radio show. There are turntables in the studio but I still have to master cueing those up.

Which article from your archive is the most memorable and why?

I always have a fondness for the "Best of the Year" roundups, both because the work I put into finding and summarizing all my favorite CDs of the past year is fun and seeing all the covers and text I've put together laid out on the screen in the kind of list format I've been seeing in music publications for decades is really cool to me..

Do you regret music becoming such a large part of your life?

Not in the slightest.

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