trumpeter - bandleader - composer - educator - actor
Thad Wilson's music is best described in one word: Authentic. Thad was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey, however, his musical life started as a child living in Montgomery, Alabama. At the age of twelve, neighbors could see (and hear) him on his front lawn practicing Taps on his trumpet until dark.
At the age of fifteen, he moved back to New Jersey where he graduated from Elizabeth High School and was quickly recognized for his talent. He was awarded the All-American High School Music Award and a place in New Jersey's All-State Jazz Ensemble. Thad was now en route to majoring in Music Education at New Jersey City University. After college, he studied privately with Jimmy Owens, former member of Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band, and it was Jimmy who gave Thad a glimpse into the life of a professional jazz musician. Thad spent many nights in NYC, playing at jam sessions at the Village Door, Village Gate, Blue Note, Visiones, Smalls, University of the Streets, and attending every live performance he could get to. He played with many of the greats such as James Moody, Benny Golson, Arnie Lawrence, Cecil Bridgewater, Vanessa Ruben, Ted Curson, and many others.
While in New York, Thad was a member of Charlie Persip's Super Band. Realizing how talented-saturated the New York City scene was, Thad relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. There he met Johnny Oneal, Joe Jennings, Grant Reed and numerous other influential musicians that laid the foundation for his development as a jazz professional. While in Atlanta, Thad was also working with some of the leading producers in the R&B and Hip-Hop genres. Artists like Khalfani and producer Rico Wade used Thad's trumpet for many tracks and live shows.
At this time, Thad's pen was starting to get warm. In 1995, his first big band was established in Atlanta and included the likes of Tia Fuller, Andre Heyward, Joe Grandsden and many other young talents. By 1997, Thad was heading north, landing himself in the nation's capital. "I felt I needed to make my way back to New York City, and Washington, D.C. was on the way. Somehow, I wound up here and felt really at home with audiences and musicians." It was here that he started the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra. "All of a sudden it felt like the skies opened up and I could spread my wings." When the band held the Monday night slot at the legendary One Step Down, the great Andrew White was a regular attendee. During that period, the renowned drummer and vocalist, Grady Tate, agreed to be a guest artist with the Orchestra at the world famous Blues Alley.
These experiences led Thad to tour the world as a trumpeter and guest artist. His worldwide appearances include Barcelona and Bilboa, Spain; Berlin, Germany; Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia; Paris, France; Antigua, Guatemala; Puebla and Mexico City, Mexico; the D.C. Jazz Festival; Atlanta Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz Festival and many other cities around the world. In 2003, Thad's writing expanded to film score composing and more extended musical projects. Thad performed his original suite, Reflections on Romare, at the National Gallery of Art’s Romare Bearden exhibition opening in 2005. In 2006 and 2007, he served as Program Director for The National Gallery of Art's Jazz in the Garden summer concert series.
In 2008, Thad went on the road with the musical production, Ella, which chronicled the life and times of Ella Fitzgerald. He played the role of Donnie and was featured in the play performing a musical impression of Louis Armstrong.
Currently, in addition to composing and touring, Thad teaches Jazz Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where he resides.