Gerald Wilson

From time to time, Gerald Wilson seemed like one of Los Angeles' better-kept secrets, an unusually skillful, imaginative, and charismatic bandleader who hadn't received his due outside the West Coast. His arrangements were distinctive, often complex voicings and harmonies, rooted in swing and bop, yet always forward-looking and energetic in tone. He liked to play around with structures, which contributed to the restless quality in much of his music, and being a bullfight aficionado, he was one of the first arrangers to make use of Spanish influences. He was consistently able to attract top-rank musicians to his bands, who played with immaculate precision and brio for the flamboyantly gesticulating maestro.