Steve Wilson has attained ubiquitous status in the studio and on the stage with the greatest names in jazz. A bandleader in his own right, Jazz Times calls him the consummate saxophonist-composer and one of the finest alto and soprano saxophonists of our time. A musicians musician, Wilson has brought his distinctive sound to more than 100 recordings led by such celebrated and wide-ranging artists as Chick Corea, George Duke, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, Bill Bruford, Gerald Wilson, Maria Schneider, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd, Billy Childs, Karrin Allyson, Don Byron, Bill Stewart, James Williams, and Mulgrew Miller among many others. Wilson has eight recordings under his own name, leading and collaborating with such stellar musicians as Lewis Nash, Carl Allen, Steve Nelson, Cyrus Chestnut, Greg Hutchinson, Dennis Irwin, James Genus, Larry Grenadier, Ray Drummond, Ben Riley, Nicholas Payton, Orrin Evans, Ugonna Okegwo and Bill Stewart.
In 2015 Wilson released his first project as a leader in 12 years, Steve Wilson & Wilsonians Grain: Live in New York: The Vanguard Sessions, on Random Act Records. Recorded live at the famed Village Vanguard in NYC on May 24 & 25, 2014, the recording features Wilsons potent quartet with Orrin Evans, Ugonna Okegwo and Bill Stewart. The CD was conceived to truly capture the live experience and the sound of one of the best listening rooms in the world. The tracking order reflects a Wilsonians Grain set, and includes three Wilson originals, and tunes by Orrin Evans, Joe Chambers, Thelonius Monk and Migiwa Miyajima. WBGO Radio describes Wilsonians Grain as jazz at its finest in conception, execution and spontaneity.
He has recorded another project, Sit Back Relax & Unwind, for JMI Records that features Ray Angry, Ben Williams and Willie Jones, III just recently released. In the vein of the old CTI recordings, it is an analog recording and will be released a vinyl LP only. Produced by Steven Mandel (Music Supervisor the The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots), he also contributed four tunes that were arranged by Wilson. There are two new tunes by Wilson and an arrangement by Ray Angry of David Bowies Space Oddity.
Starting his formal training on saxophone in his native Hampton, Virginia, Wilson also played oboe and drums in school bands while performing in various R&B/funk bands throughout his teens. After a year-long stint with singer Stephanie Mills he decided to major in music at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he performed and/or studied with Jimmy and Percy Heath, Jon Hendricks, Jaki Byard, John Hicks, Frank Foster and Ellis Marsalis. During those years he was also in constant demand for recording studio work, and as backing musician for touring shows such as The Four Tops and Sophisticated Ladies. Landing a chair with O.T.B (Out of the Blue), a sextet of promising young players recording on Blue Note Records, Wilson moved to New York in 1987 and the following year toured the U.S. and Europe with Lionel Hampton. Becoming a first-call choice for veteran and emerging artists alike, Wilson was the subject of a New York Times profile A Sidemans Life, highlighting his work with Ralph Peterson, Jr., Michele Rosewoman, Renee Rosnes, Marvin Smitty Smith, Joanne Brackeen, The American Jazz Orchestra, The Mingus Big Band, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Leon Parker, and Buster Williams Quintet Something More. In 1996 he joined the acclaimed Dave Holland Quintet, and from 1998-2001 he was a member of Chick Coreas Grammy winning sextet Origin.