Reuben Wilson


Born April 9, 1935 in Mounds, Oklahoma, organist/organist Reuben Wilson moved at age five with his family to California, settling in Pasadena, where his school mates included bassist Herb Lewis and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. “Except for a half dozen basic lessons with Austin McCoy,” says Wilson, “I was self-taught as a pianist. But before I could even get seriously involved with the piano, a friend introduced me to the organ, and I knew this was the direction I wanted to take. My original inspiration had been Billy Larkin of the Delegates. Later, I listened to Jimmy Smith and learned a lot from him, of course.”

Around Christmas 1966, Wilson settled in New York and formed a trio called the Wildare Express with Tommy Derrick, the drummer who also played on Wilson’s first Blue Note album, “On Broadway.” During this time, Wilson worked with Grant Green, Sam Rivers, Roy Haynes and Willis “Gatortail” Jackson.

Back in the late ‘60s, many musicians were reared on “straight-ahead” Jazz. Wilson began mixing Jazz with Pop, creating Fusion or Funk, which later inspired people like Sly Stone and George Clinton. This new sub-genre, called Funk or Soul-Jazz, became a hit in London and Blue Note records rode the wave.

In the late ‘80s, the term Acid-Jazz was coined by DJs Gilles Peterson, Paul Murphy and Eddie Pillar. They started playing obscure Soul-Jazz records like Wilson’s “Gotta Get Your Own,” and it became a hit in England. In the ‘90s, the DJ scene had created a need for a new sound. This time it was Us3, Tribe Called Qwest, and Nas who sampled Wilson’s compositions “Ronnie’s Bonnie and “Were in Love” and his version of “Inner City Blues.” With this new success, Wilson was inspired to start working again musically and began writing new compositions. He also toured Europe, Japan and North America in 1995 with Guru’s JazzmatazzII. In 1997 Wilson won a gold disc for his compositions on the Us3 certified gold album, “Hand On The Torch.”

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