Teddy Wilson was the master pianist of the swing era. His early influence
was Earl Hines, but in time Wilson developed
a more legato and graceful style of playing, perhaps through listening
to, and playing with, Art Tatum. His playing
exhibited a delightful touch and a concise style, rarely did he fill
his canvas with an excess of notes, and often, like Tatum, his subtlety
implied more notes than he struck.
is born in Austin, Texas; his parents are academics. He studies
music at college and falls in love with jazz.
Wilson is the first black artist to play with Benny
Goodman. In later years the partnership is reformed for reunion
concerts and recordings.
Wilson plays with smaller ensembles and his own trio, and a certain
amount of solo playing, for the rest of his career. He teaches at
the Juilliard for a while in the 1950s. His playing remains of high
quality until his death.
in Chicago with Armstrong among
others, as both pianist and arranger, and having played duos (and
not disgraced himself) with Art Tatum,
his first full-time job is with the Benny
Carter band. He works with Billie
Holiday as well.
Wilson forms a big band briefly. It is well received, but Wilson's
urbanity does not lend itself to showmanship and the band is a commercial