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Dave Wilson

Tenor and Soprano Saxophonist Dave Wilson

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Saxophonist Dave Wilson

BIO: Dave Wilson is a leading jazz saxophonist, recording artist, band leader, composer, and educator in the Central PA/ Delaware Valley area, with a very active venue and festival schedule as both a leader of his own groups and as a sideman. Born and raised in Bronxville, N.Y., Dave Wilson began his music studies in the fourth grade. Wilson has evolved into a striking saxophonist with chops and maturity of tone that invokes passions and enthusiasm when listening to his vocabulary in jazz. He has studied with saxophonists Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Bill Barron, Ralph Lalama, Tim Price, Glenn Guidone, Tom Strohman, as well as with guitarist Steve Giordano and pianist Kirk Reese. His main area of focus with the saxophone are the Tenor and Soprano, but also focuses on the Alto, and is adept at both Clarinet (his first instrument back in grade school) and Flute and Piccolo. As the leader of his own contemporary jazz group, the Dave Wilson Quartet, Wilson and his band mates are known for their exciting improvisations, creative individualistic compositions and unique arrangements of standards. Wilson also led the Canal Street Hot 6, a well known Traditional/New Orleans ensemble for many years, with the trumpet Ben Mauger, one of the top purveyors of this genre on the East Coast. They released the CD, “Back In the Day”. The Canal Street Hot 6 made numerous appearances on the East coast including at the Hot Steam Jazz Festival in Essex, CT, the Suncoast Jazz Society in Clearwater, Fla, The Tri-State Jazz Society (Philadelphia/New Jersey/Delaware), Pennsylvania Jazz Society, and at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. Dave remains very active with this genre, and his current Traditional Jazz Group, the Rampart Street Ramblers, often features an all-star lineup including some of the top names in Mid Atlantic Traditional Jazz circles. Wilson’s was a long standing member of the legendary trumpet master Dave Stahl and played in his Sacred Orchestra and Dave Stahl Big Band. The DSSO released two CD’s which he performed on. With the big band he played alongside such Jazz luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, the late Lou Soloff (BS & T), the late Steve Marcus, John Fedchock, Conrad Herwig, Gary Smulyan, Steve Smith (from Journey) and John Riley, among others. Dave continues his work in the area of the “Big Band”, and currently performs on a regular basis in largely regional ensembles including the River City Big Band, King Street Big Band (KSSB), the Ben Mauger Vintage Jazz Band, and the Hershey Symphony Big Band, the “Kool Kats”, as well as hiring out for an occasional “show”. The saxophonist released first solo CD in the Fall of 2020 entitled “Through the Time”, featuring himself on tenor and soprano saxophones; Kirk Reese on piano; Steve Meashey on bass; and Jeff Stabley on drums. The release was picked up by Dreamscape Records and received significant airplay on WRTI-FM in Philadelphia, and enjoyed additional airplay on over 30 jazz stations nationwide. “Through the Time” found itself on a few individual stations top 5 stats. A second CD by the Dave Wilson Quartet titled “My Time” was released in late 2005 on Dreambox Media, a leading Independent record company out of Philadelphia. It garnered favorable reviews nationwide, including such publications as The Philadelphia Inquirer, All About Jazz, and Jazz Times. It a favorite at WRTI in Philadelphia as well as some 35-40 jazz stations nationwide. It achieved “Chartbound” status, peaking at #55 on the Jazz Week album chart rankings. Dave Wilson's third recording “Spiral”, featured internationally known personnel, Phil Markowitz on Piano, Tony Marino on Bass, and Adam Nussbaum on Drums, was released nationally on the Summit Records label in June 2010. It garnered national airplay from some 40 stations nationwide, achieved “Chartbound” status in the Jazz Weekly countdown, topping at #51 nationwide, (staying in the 50’s for over 8 weeks), as well as #41 in the Roots Radio Report. It received many positive reviews including those in national publications DownBeat (3 1/2 stars) and JazzTimes, along with several other publications. The New Dave Wilson Quartet released their latest and fourth recording “There Was Never” on the New York based ZOHO Music Label, the street date, Nov 6th, 2015. Recorded at world renowned Red Rock Studios, Saylorsburg, Pa, the fantastic Kent Heckman engineering, it features an all-star lineup of Bobby Avey-Piano, Tony Marino-Bass, Alex Ritz-Drums (members of the Dave Liebman Group), performing six original compositions from saxophonist Dave Wilson plus unique and compelling interpretations of three well-known tunes, (including the classic “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys; “Cassidy”, by the Grateful Dead, and a unique take on Gershwin's “Summertime”). Subsequent to the release there were some great performances: CD releases at The Garage in Greenwich Village, NY and Chris' Jazz Cafe, master class/concert s at several Pennsylvania area colleges, appearances at the Bethlehem Musikfest, Washington D.C.'s Ronald Reagan Plaza, the Manassas Jazz Festival, among others. For some two months, the CD received radio airplay in some 40 different markets across the country,and for 6 weeks was in the top 50 of the nation-wide Jazz Weekly Jazz Radio Countdown, reaching a high of #18 in the nation! It was in the Top 11 in Philadelphia's WRTI New Releases, for several weeks, reaching a high of number 5. The track “Cassidy” was #13 in WRTI'S countdown for the top 100 in 2016. There was also a great review in the February issue of famed Downbeat Magazine. Dave has performed at the Media, PA “Jazz by Night” festival, The Berk’s Jazz Fest, Harrisburg’s American Music Festival, Bethlehem Musikfest, Philadelphia's Jazz Bridge Sponsored “Neighborhood Concert Series”, headlining at JazzFest in York, PA, the Manassas (VA) Wine & Jazz Festival, Herndon (VA) Music Festival, Penns Woods Winery Wine and Jazz Festival/”Wine and Jazz Under The Stars”, Pittsburgh Cider & Mead Festival, Baltimore's Artscape, and the Scranton Jazz Festival among others. Dave also performed in New York City at the Somethin' Jazz Club and The Garage, and has made regular appearances at the famed Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia for several years now. He has also been active in college master classes and concerts. Wilson has worked with the likes of pianists Mark Soskin, Jim Ridl, Phil Markowitz, Bobby Avey, Steve Rudolph, Kirk Reese, bassists Tony Marino, Blake Meister, and Steve Varner, drummers Adam Nussbaum, Bill Goodwin, Alex Ritz, Frank Russo, and Marko Marcinko, as well as saxophonist Tim Warfield and Philadelphia based guitarist Steve Giordano among others. During his stint with the Dave Stahl big band he played alongside such Jazz luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Lou Soloff (BS & T), the late Steve Marcus, John Fedchock, Conrad Herwig, Gary Smulyan, Steve Smith (from Journey), John Riley, among others. His All Star concert appearances feature the likes of such nationally and internationally as well as regionally jazz notables as, on piano-Mark Soskin, Jim Ridl, Bobby Avey, Phil Markowitz, Steve Rudolph, Kirk Reese, Fred Hughes; Bass-Tony Marino, Blake Meister, Steve Varner, Frank Gravis; Drums- Adam Nussbaum, Marko Marcinko, Frank Russo, Alex Ritz, Larry Marshall, Butch Reed. For over twenty years, Dave has kept an active performance schedule logging an average of 150 dates a year with big bands and small ensembles at concerts, festivals, club dates and private engagements. Dave’s educational background includes a BA in Philosophy from Wesleyan University and a BS in Music Education from Lebanon Valley College. He has been teaching privately on woodwinds on a full time basis since 1991, and has and is associated with some of the leading studios in the area. He also has a business focusing on the buying and selling of vintage, modern and student brass and woodwind Instruments (information on which can be found on this web site.) He resides in Lancaster, PA with his wife, Lisa, and their four cats.

New CD “There Was Never” major reviews:

From Downbeat Magazine, February 2016, Josef Woodard Dave Wilson Quartet, There Was Never (Zoho 201512; 65:34 +++ 3 stars!) With his fourth album, Dave Wilson, on tenor and soprano saxophones, puts a strong foot forward, backed by a tight and raring-to-go rhythm section of young pianist Bobby Avey, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Alex Ritz. From the tricky, pulsing energy of the opening “The Time Has Come,” on which the saxophonist brandishes his big tone and easily tumbling facility, to the simple folk theme of “On The Prairie,” There Was Never makes a varied and mostly powerful impact.

ALL ABOUT JAZZ DAN BILAWSKY, December 25, 2015 Saxophonist Dave Wilson cuts an imposing figure on the cover of There Was Never, his fourth album in total and his first on the Zoho Music imprint. There's intensity fixed on his face, with eyes closed in concentration and embouchure set for attack. And then there's his tenor saxophone. It has a larger than life presence in the photo. This is the picture of a man on a mission, a leader who knows what he wants, a musician who knows how to handle his horn. The music, thankfully, says the exact same thing(s)....Wilson, a fixture on the Pennsylvania jazz scene, has focused on the quartet format with all of his albums—Through The Time (Self Produced, 2002), My Time (DreamBox Media, 2006), Spiral (Summit Records, 2010), and this engrossing date. But that doesn't mean he's settled on a formula. Quite the contrary, in fact. Wilson is still working things out, trying new things, and altering lineups. He's finding different ways to explore the most familiar of formats and he sounds great doing it. Here, he teams with rising star pianist Bobby Avey, a bold adventurer who dissects harmonies and grooves in unexpected ways; drummer Alex Ritz, a firm yet malleable presence behind the kit; and Tony Marino, a ballasting bassist who happens to be the only holdover from Wilson's previous outing. They make for a strong grouping, a bit more unpredictable and restless than the band that appeared on Spiral....These are protean players who take joy in stretching an idea, but they never completely upend the music. They create squalls and then weather them together...simply further the notion that Dave Wilson is anything but set in his ways. There Was Never is as complete a musical statement as you can come by these days. Dull moments seem to be the only thing missing from this package

The “Spiral” Reviews (also summarized on web site):

Spiral Review published in Downbeat Magazine (November, 2010)-John Ephland ***1/2 (3 and ½ stars)

“With a crack band in pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Tony Marino and Adam Nussbaum on drums, saxophonist Dave Wilson knows how to pick them and the music. Actually, most of these 11 tunes are Wilson's, with a few of the covers suggesting eclecticism: Toninho Horta's “Francisca” and the Grateful Dead classic “Friend Of The Devil”. Eclectic because, as far as jazz albums go, Spiral is pretty standard, straightahead fare, sparked by Wilson's edgy yet loose tenor playing along with vivid comping and soloing by Markowitz, sold support from Marino and sensitive yet fiery playing from the always reliable Nussbaum. The Title track is an uptempo swinger with a catchy melody hinged on two chords and great playing all around. Wilson's “Movin' On”, to take another example, is a good spot to hear the saxophonist's lyrical yet burly tone on this medium-slow swinger, Markowitz's piano adding its own lyrical sheen while Marino and Nussbaum channel their respective Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones vibes. Wilson's “Like GS 2” (the title is a reference to Scott LaFaro's “Gloria's Step”, the song a reworking) is a light trio excursion, featuring the leader's Warne Marsh-like playing with Marino getting some room to solo against Nussbaum's tasty brushwork. This swinger indicates a band comfort level both wide and deep.”

Spiral Review published in JazzTimes Magazine (December, 2010)-Bill Milkowski

With stellar support from Pianist Phil Markowitz, Bassist Tony Marino, and drummer Adam Nussbaum, Pennsylvania-based saxophonist-educator Dave Wilson elevates his game and blows with authority on this collection of originals and smartly plucked covers. From the aggressive title track (with Wilson channeling his inner Trane on tenor) to the soothing bossa nova “Ocean Blue”, the expansive modal number “Movin’ On” and an intriguing variation on Scott LaFaro’s “Gloria’s Step” (titled “Like GS Step 2”) the saxophonist showcases a bold sound, fertile ideas, and fluid lines. Also included are spirited covers of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” and Creed’s “My Own Prison”.

-CD Review: By Karl Ackermann-All About Jazz

“Wilson's compositions and covers reflect an eclectic approach, featuring ballads, Latin influences, free improvisation and mainstream jazz. Wilson's and his quartet may well have produced their breakout effort with Spiral; a potpourri of jazz styles from sometimes unlikely sources, it nevertheless flows and holds together, thanks to the multiple skills of Wilson and his band... Should it appear that cover arrangements are the highlights of Spiral, rest assured that they are just part of the overall package. Wilson's own contributions account for more than half the numbers and they measure up across the board. Whether the focus is on melody or free improvisation, Wilson is more than up to the task and could not have found a more empathetic collaborator than Markowitz. Spiral is an inventive, high-energy collection with a number of very accessible compositions that should propel Wilson's career as a leader.”

CD Reviews:

by George Fendel

“If might be said that Dave Wilson represents a new segment of jazz musicians who test the ears of the listener nearly exclusively through their own compositions. Wilson has roots in Coltrane, but I found his actual tenor sound to have earlier influences as well…his compositions…test your ability to determine a melody line. ...there’s a very urban, brawny sound that he seems to favor. For this recording, Wilson enlisted some top echelon talent in Phil Markewitz, piano, Tony Martino, bass, and Adam Nussbaum, drums. If you’re looking for Zoot, Ben or Getz, this won’t be you entree, but if you like being inside the outside, these guys dig pretty deep.”

-CD Reviews: by Alex

“When an album includes songs by the Grateful Dead, Creed, and Ambrosia, the phrase “instrumental, acoustic-oriented post-bop jazz” usually isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But tenor/soprano saxophonist Dave Wilson's Spiral is, in fact, an instrumental, acoustic-oriented post-bop jazz album that includes songs by the Grateful Dead, Creed, and Ambrosia — and the impressive thing is that Wilson's jazz mentality is as strong on the rock and pop/rock material as it is on the original compositions that dominate this 2009 recording….But Spiral isn't smooth jazz; Wilson gets his inspiration from post-bop saxophonists like Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, and Joe Henderson (with a healthy appreciation of Michael Brecker as well). And when he tackles the Grateful Dead's “Friend of the Devil,” Creed's “My Own Prison,” and Ambrosia's “Biggest Part of Me,” Wilson isn't playing the type of vapid, note-for-note covers one associates with Dave Koz, Richard Elliot or the late George Howard….Wilson (who forms a quartet with pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Tony Marino, and drummer Adam Nussbaum) seriously interprets those three tunes, and his solos are equally introspective on six original compositions and a memorable arrangement of Brazilian star Toninho Horta's “Francisca.” The fact that Wilson can take songs from Bay Area jam band country-rock, post-grunge, alternative rock, soft rock/adult contemporary, and Brazilian jazz-pop and make all of them relevant to post-bop speaks well of the Pennsylvania-based saxophonist, who is in fine form throughout Spiral.”

August 11, 2010 By Chuck Vecoli,

If you have ever spent any time in the Lancaster Pennsylvania area, and you like jazz, chances are you have stumbled across this treasure trove of talented musicians. I have had the pleasure of hearing a few of the region's offerings, both in the area and on CDs. Dave Wilson is one of those musicians and the latest CD, “Spiral”, by the Dave Wilson Quartet is among those treasures.

“Spiral” is Wilson's third and latest effort and demonstrates a growing competence in the role of leader, composer and arranger. Wilson brings together a band of first call sidemen including Phil Markowitz on piano, Tony Marino on bass, and Adam Nussbaum on drums. These talented musicians make first quality work out of the Wilson compositions and arrangements. Throughout this CD the sidemen are ever-present contributors to the intent of the arrangements and honor the emotion of the compositions. A standout performer on this CD is Markowitz on piano, a constant compliment to the lead work of Wilson, tying the rhthym section to the lead with a sensitivity that only a master can provide…The work provides a perfect venue for demonstrating the talent of Dave Wilson and his sidemen. Cuts on this CD rank among the most entertaining jazz saxophone works I have heard. The Dave Wilson Quartet has delivered a most memorable effort with “Spiral”.

CD Reviews: By Doug Simpson, Audiophile Audition

“On Spiral, saxophonist Dave Wilson proves two things: he is a top-notch composer and he has a talent for choosing idiosyncratic cover tunes.

…Some jazz recordings seem produced to fit specific kinds of listeners or audiences: avantgarde, traditional, pop-oriented, soul jazz and others. Pennsylvania-based saxophonist Dave Wilson does not create jazz in an attempt to complement all tastes but nevertheless one listen to Wilson’s third album as leader, Spiral, and it becomes evident Wilson makes jazz that can be satisfying to several types of fans: he does not jump from one genre to another, but has put together an hour’s worth of jazz that is engaging, confident and rewarding.

….Wilson wrote six of the 11 tracks and despite some unusual choices in cover material, he gives the project a cohesive unity… Wilson has a gift for picking unique covers…It is not often someone can hear a Grateful Dead country rocker (outlaw narrative “Friend of the Devil”) and a lilting Latin number by guitarist Toninho Horta on the same record…However, Wilson’s self-penned cuts are the meat and potatoes of this outing and reveal an artist who melds technical proficiency with responsive composing.”

CD Review:

St. Joseph News-Press, Mo., Street Beats column: Dave Wilson Quartet, 'Spiral' (Summit Records) Jul 15, 2010 (St. Joseph News-Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –

“”Spiral” is a minor masterpiece. It has the urgency, technical proficiency and coherent song succession that only the finest studio recordings possess and only the best players can produce….”Spiral” is music that deserves to be heard.

CD Reviews: By Frank C. Etier

“Wait a minute! Is that Stan Getz or Paul Desmond? The first two tracks made it clear that this was real jazz, but when track three (“Ocean Blue”) was introduced with a smooth samba-like rhythm and the saxophone slipped in, it made me do a double take. Was this Dave Wilson and his quartet or did the wrong CD make it into the player? …Spiral is Dave Wilson’s third CD and he is joined for this project by three legendary sidemen with stellar resume’s. Phil Markowitz on piano, Tony Marino on bass, and Adam Nussbaum on drums have worked with such notables as Chet Baker, Bob Mintzer, Zoots Sims, Phil Woods, Stan Getz, John Scofield, and Dave Liebman. The Dave Wilson Quartet is tight and turns in a defining performance both for themselves and traditional jazz. …For those who use that crossover appeal as a benchmark for success, this CD is a must buy. Dave Wilson is a music educator, band leader, sideman, event promoter, salesman 9 (musical instruments), arranger, and now recording artist. With two previous CD’s that both made waves on the charts, we hope that the third time is a charm for a vehicle to great fame. Such success would be great not only for Wilson, but for jazz music in general.”

CD Reviews:

“The 11 cuts on this fantastic high-energy CD prove his musical genius beyond doubt, especially on tracks like “Summer Breezes”, one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've heard this year. It's full-tilt jazz from the title track on the opener, “Spiral”, to my absolute favorite piece, “Movin' On “... Phil Markowitz' piano, bass by Tony Marino and drums from Adam Nussbaum all work together with Dave's probing reed work to make this a most memorable CD…This CD is more than just a “keeper”, it's an instant classic in my collection... I can't say enough about Dave's splendid June 2010 release - it gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as the “PICK” of 2010 for “best jazz quartet”. Rotcod Zzaj Aka Dick Metclaf IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION

CD Review:

By Raul d'Gama Rose

“…The nature of successful interlocking is that the pieces fit each other with seamless perfection. In a group of disparate musicians this is not always possible. However, with the ensemble that saxophonist Dave Wilson has put together the pieces seem to fit with enviable perfection. There is a swirling energy that keeps the unit cohesive; but, more than that, it appears as if saxophonist, pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Adam Nussbaum were cut from the same cloth. The understanding between each of the musicians is telepathic and often, throughout the long and rewarding set, it feels as if they share one dynamic brain.

….Something is always happening in the churning energy of the vortex that is the Dave Wilson Quartet. Usually, Wilson provokes this with the gruff-and-tender miasma that swirls like an electromagnetic field around his saxophone. He gently agitates the very air around him with fluidity that recalls the gentle and throaty persuasions of Joe Henderson on tenor. On soprano saxophone, Wilson favors a drier tone that streams with gilded edges and sharp undulations. His thoughts flow rapidly on both horns, turning out statements of a concrete, poetic nature….This anchor enables him and his fellow musicians to create great circular clusters of sound, charged with burgeoning harmony.

….There is so much on this album to challenge not simply the musicians, but also those who hear the music. This is a record that reaches deep into the soul—something that cannot be said about very much music these days.”

The Dave Wilson Quartet: My Time (Dreambox Media)

“My Time”, by the Dave Wilson Quartet, has been released on Dreambox Media (, an influential independent jazz record label headed by the great Philly drummer Jim Miller, that features largely Delaware Valley artists. J.D. Walter, Larry McKenna, Jim Ridl, Dennis Diblasio, George Rabbai, Duane Eubanks and Jim Miller are just some of the artists featured on this label. The recording was done at The Music Centre in Exton, Pa (Glenn Ferracone, Engineer), and features noted Philadelphia and south-central PA artists Matt Hochmiller on Acoustic Piano, Steve Meashey on Acoustic Bass, and Tony Deangelis on Drums. “My Time” features 5 original tunes, all written by Dave Wilson, all in distinctive jazz idioms, along with covers of 5 standard tunes. These include unique treatments of Gershwin’s “Summertime”, Alec Wilder’s “Moon And Sand”, Kenny Wheeler’s “Smatter”, Bill Evan’s “Time Remembered”, along with “Just Friends”.

Here are what some of the critics are already saying about “My Time”; FIRST, AN OUTSTANDING REVIEW IN THE MARCH, 2007 ISSUE OF JAZZ TIMES!

…Dave Wilson’s second CD makes a subdued entrance with a gently flowing ballad led by long, clear tones from Wilson’s soprano sax. But just when you thin you’ve got him figured out, the tables are turned. It’s Wilson’s gruff, streetwise tenor that dominates this outing, with a merry band of Philadelphia musicians keeping the vibe straight-up and swinging. They hit their peak in a compelling version of “Summertime” (presented here in two versions), with Wilson’s passionate blowing going into overdrive above the riffing rhythm section. Five original tunes offer catchy hooks and warm moods, keeping the disc buzzing along nicely. JAZZ TIMES, MARCH 2007

...Wilson injects punch and zip into jazz standards...his wit shines radiantly... And besides the musicians’ noticeable camaraderie and solid chops, this endeavor pronounces clarity of thought, and proclamations of good cheer. - Glenn Astarita,

.... An engaging performance and clever, boppish charts, should propel this disc to the top of the national jazz station play list. - Edward Blanco,

…Tenor saxophonist Dave Wilson and his quartet are based in Philadelphia and, from the evidence of this CD, they are well worth catching. Wilson has an intense but friendly tone on tenor and soprano, and a style based in hard bop but open to undertaking more adventurous paths. Pianist Matt Hochmiller takes several impressive solos and the rhythm section is both supportive and stimulating. Whether it is an up-tempo romp or a brooding ballad, My Time has plenty of colorful moments and features the four musicians in top form. -Scott Yanow, (AMG)

…The Dave Wilson Quartet’s 2005 album My Time is very good in a recent CD release that offers mostly original material by Wilson…It is one of the most replayable Jazz CDs we have heard in a while and fans will be very interested too. -Nicholas Sheffo,

…In the tradition of mainstream jazz, reedman extraordinaire Dave Wilson asserts himself to us his devoted listeners like a NASA shuttle bent on conquering the universe...Proffering us their music with compelling chordal extensions, & lovely angular lines, etc....Bringing our sensibilities to a strong musical reaction in real time. George W. Carroll/The Musicians' Ombudsman

…A solid ensemble plus a few tried and true standards make this worthwhile recording. 4 Stars John Gilbert,

…Dave Wilson…A post-Coltrane soprano and tenor saxophonist with a penchant for melody…. a keen sense of melody, as well as the ability to turn the heat a notch up on the uptempo tracks. -Michael P. Gladstone,

…Lancaster, Pa.-based saxophonist Dave Wilson can change your mind about the hipness of Amish country… is a threat throughout the woodwind family. …a fluid player who gets around the horn - mostly soprano and tenor - and blends in wherever he lands… a happening mainstream vibe -K.S. Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer

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