4 September 1918, Shelby, Mississippi, USA. After starting out on piano, Wilson switched to trumpet while at Manassas high school. He studied formally at Cass Tech, Detroit, before joining Jimmie Lunceford in 1939, where he had the unenviable job of replacing Sy Oliver. Like Oliver, Wilsons duties in the Lunceford band not only required him to play trumpet but also to write arrangements. He composed original material for the band, including Hi Spook and Yard Dog Mazurka. After leaving Lunceford in 1942 he settled in Los Angeles, served in the US Navy, where he played in the band directed by Willie Smith (and which included Clark Terry), and also played briefly in bands led by Les Hite and Benny Carter. He formed his first band in 1945, recording and touring with a measure of success. The band included trombonist-arranger Melba Liston, and his wife Etta Jones, although they were divorced in the early 50s. He folded the band in 1947 and...
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