The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
Become a Member
104 E. 126th Street • Suite 4D • New York, NY 10035
Louis Armstrong
Visitors Center
Video Archive
Savory Collection

Past Events

Saturday Panels
A Day With NEA Jazz Master Joe Wilder
February 19, 2011

Joe Wilder is one of the most beloved friends of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and is universally loved and respected in the jazz community. On January 11, 2011, Mr. Wilder—a genial giant of this musical idiom—joined with other legends of jazz as one of the NEA Jazz Masters in attendance at the awards ceremony and concert for the class of 2011 at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Today join us at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem where we will honor Joe with music, discussion and memories that he will share in person.

As a musician, he’s a versatile trumpeter sporting a beautiful tone and playing that’s full of character and an invaluable ability to tell a story with his horn—a trait he says was fueled by one of his "original inspirations," Benny Carter. Wilder was raised in Philadelphia, where his father led a band, making his debut on a local radio show spotlighting talented black children. His first professional job was with Les Hite in 1941, where he met Dizzy Gillespie in the trumpet section. He joined Lionel Hampton the following year and became co-bandmaster for a Marine band during World War II. Rejoining Hampton after the war, Wilder moved on to the Jimmie Lunceford, Lucky Millander, Sam Donahue, and Herbie Fields bands while also playing in the pit orchestras for Broadway musicals (including three years with Guys and Dolls). He played with Count Basie for the first six months of 1954 and was a member of the music staff of ABC-TV from 1957 to 1973, taking time out to tour Russia with Benny Goodman and substitute with the New York Philharmonic. Upon leaving ABC in 1973, Wilder worked as a freelance studio musician. As a leader, Wilder recorded an album for Savoy in 1956 and two for Columbia in 1959; he also appeared in memorably sly form on Benny Carter's A Gentleman and His Music (Concord) in 1985 and resurfaced in the 1990s with a pair of albums on the Evening Star label.

His strong solo trumpet work is also found on the famous Sound of Jazz film. Come spend an afternoon with an undisputed jazz master.


Part 1:  Click for Audio

Part 2:  Click for Audio

Frank Wess and Eddie Bert
Panel 1: (L-R) Eddie Bert, Ed Berger, Joe Wilder, Wilmer Wise, Dominick Farinacci
Panel 2: (L-R) Henry Nowak, Ed Berger, Joe Wilder, Frank Wess, Jimmy Owens, Warren Vache

This jazz site is part of