Personalities | Teddy Wilson | Thirties | Jazz & Blues

(Piano, 1912–86)

Although the physical brilliance of Art Tatum may have eluded most pianists in the 1930s, the more practical possibilities offered by Teddy Wilson made him the most influential pianist of the decade. Softening Earl Hines’ emphasis on the beat still further, Wilson’s style was centred almost wholly in his right hand, which spun smooth, bobbing, single-note lines and tranquil arpeggios, bringing him into perfect alignment with the sleek aerodynamics of swing. This was evident in his first recordings with Benny Carter (1933).

But Wilson found his ideal companionship in the clean rigour of the Benny Goodman Trio and Quartet, which brought him national fame in 1935 and a parallel recording career under his own name that produced a number of jazz classics, several with Billie Holiday. Wilson left Goodman in 1939, formed an excellent but short-lived big band and recorded prolifically during the 1940s, often with Goodman, Edmond Hall and Red Norvo; he continued to perform and record until the end of his life.

Styles & Forms | Thirties | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Jimmy Yancey | Thirties | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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