Oral Histories

Interview of Gerald S. Wilson

Jazz bandleader, composer, arranger, and trumpet player.
Central Avenue Sounds: Gerald S. Wilson
Central Avenue Sounds Oral History Project
African American History
Biographical Note:
Jazz bandleader, composer, arranger, and trumpet player.
Isoardi, Steven L.
Wilson, Gerald S.
Persons Present:
Wilson and Isoardi.
Place Conducted:
American Federation of Musicians Local 47 inHollywood, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Steven L. Isoardi, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., Government, University of San Francisco; M.A., Government, University of San Francisco; M.A., Political Science, UCLA; Ph.D., Political Science, UCLA.Isoardi prepared for the interview by consulting jazz histories, autobiographies, oral histories, relevant jazz periodicals, documentary films, and back issues of the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel.
Processing of Interview:
Alex Cline, editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Whenever possible, Cline checked the proper names of nightclubs against articles and advertisements in backissues of the California Eagle. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Wilson reviewed the transcript. He verified proper names and made minor corrections and additions.Betsy A. Ryan, editor, prepared the table of contents.Rebecca Stone, editorial assistant, assembled the biographical summary and the interview history. Lisa Magee, editorial assistant, compiled the index.
3.75 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Interviews in this series preserve the spoken memories of individuals, mainly musicians, who were raised near and/or performed on Los Angeles's Central Avenue from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s.
Mississippi childhood; plays at local clubs in Detroit; plays with Jimmie Lunceford's band; first impressions of Los Angeles and Central Avenue; encounters discrimination at the Hollywood Palladium; the music scene on Central Avenue and the clubs in Los Angeles; jam sessions at Lovejoy's; leaves Lunceford for Les Hite's band; moves on to Benny Carter's band; work in motion pictures; plays in the United States Navy band at Great Lakes, Illinois; returns to Central Avenue in the 1940s; organizes the Gerald Wilson Orchestra; radio broadcasts; plays with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong; joins the Count Basie orchestra; Wilson Orchestra recordings; amalgamation of American Federation of Musicians Locals 47 and 767; plays with Illinois Jacquet and Dizzy Gillespie; decline of the big bands; tours with Billie Holiday; musical styles on Central Avenue; becomes music director of the Joe Adams Show on KTTV television station; Phil Moore; Lee Young; Melba Liston, Vivian Fears, and the status of women jazz musicians; Mexican and classical influences on Wilson's music; the decline of Central Avenue.