Phil Wilson

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  • Career Highlights
    • Performances with Louis Armstrong, Woody Herman, Frank Sinatra, Clark Terry, Buddy Rich, Herbie Hancock, and the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, NDR Big Band (Hamburg, Germany), and Metropole Orchestra (Netherlands)
    • Recordings for Famous Door, the Boston Pops, Polydor, Freeform, Columbia, SESAC, and RCA
    • Former director of clinics at Mellon Arts Center, Harvard University, Yale University, Kansas State University, and University of California
    • Former chair, jazz division, New England Conservatory of Music
    • Member, board of directors, International Trombone Association
    • Recent recordings include Wizard of Oz Suite and The Pal Joey Suite with NDR Big Band on Capri, and AC-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive: Arlen Songs with Paul Schmeling on Seaside

In Their Own Words

"Teaching ensemble is a real juggling act. I am a coach, just like my father was a coach of the hockey team at Philips Exeter. And I've got his whistle that I use occasionally—I do!—because almost everybody in the Rainbow Band is a jazz player, a good one, in their own right. And you're dealing with that, trying to blend them together."

"Teaching is also like watching your garden blossom. You can actually feel the growth and the realization. Recently, a trombone student in our lesson was having trouble moving around the trombone comfortably at a faster tempo. We were both playing together, and he stopped all of a sudden after playing something that was really magnificent. He looked at me and he said, 'You know, I think we've just had a breakthrough.' When that happens, it's thrilling."

"I can empathize with students who struggle because of the fact that everything did not come easily for me. My piano teacher discovered after five years of piano lessons that I was mildly dyslexic. At her recital, I opened the book to play 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and made it look real great, but what I played had nothing to do with what was on the page. I played my own version and brought the house down. At the next lesson she opened that book and said, 'Go ahead. Play it just like you did the other day.' And of course it was like amateur hour. So she suggested to my mother that I take up a single-lined instrument."

"What I really wanted to do was to play trumpet, because I loved Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie and all those guys. But we couldn't afford a trumpet at the time, and there was a trombone up in the loft of the church, so I became a trombonist."