Jazz trumpet faculty member Joseph Wilder, who was among five musicians awarded the President’s Medal in a “Tribute to Jazz Legends” concert at Juilliard last February, has been selected as one of the six recipients of the 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowships. The awards will be presented at the Kennedy Center on January 11, 2008.
The N.E.A. Jazz Masters Fellowships are the highest honors that our government bestows upon jazz musicians. Created in 1982, these fellowships are given in recognition of an art form that is uniquely American and one of our nation’s greatest gifts to the world. “To be chosen as a recipient of such a prestigious award at the behest of one’s peers is extremely gratifying,” Wilder said upon learning of his selection.
Born in Colwyn, Pa., in 1922, Wilder served in World War II as one of the first African-American marines, after whichhe played in the orchestras of Lionel Hampton, Jimmie Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie, among others.From 1957 to 1974, he did studio work for ABC-TV while recording as a soloist for Savoy and Columbia. Wilder was also a regular sideman with Hank Jones, Gil Evans, and Benny Goodman. A favorite with vocalists, he played for Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Johnny Mathis, Harry Belafonte, Eileen Farrell, and Tony Bennett, among others.
Wilder, who has been on the Juilliard faculty since 2002, returned to school in the 1960s, earning a bachelor’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music. At that time, he performed on several occasions with the New York Philharmonic under André Kostelanetz and Pierre Boulez. He is the only surviving member of the Count Basie All-Star Orchestra that appeared in the classic 1959 film The Sound of Jazz. A relative latecomer as a bandleader, Wilder now makes annual appearances at the legendary Village Vanguard.