Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shadow Wilson

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time interviewing Kenny Washington for my ongoing doctoral research project. Kenny has an encyclopedic knowledge of Jazz music and it was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to sit down with this Master drummer.

The name Shadow Wilson came up several times during our discussion and Kenny was more than willing to talk, at length, about this great, unsung Jazz drummer. He pointed me towards this rare clip which features Wilson with the Louis Jordan band:

Now my own knowledge of Shadow Wilson's drumming had come from the Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane Carnegie Hall concert that was only discovered and released a few years ago.

Wilson was obviously a drummer who felt equally home playing in small, progressive groups such as with Monk and Coltrane and then also switching gears to play with the likes of Louis Jordan and the Count Basie Orchestra. In fact, Buddy Rich and many other big band drummers have openly declared on several occasions that Shadow's drum break on Basie's recording of "Queer Street" stands out as one of the greatest drum solo breaks ever recorded. You can check that out here (the brief double-time and syncopated drum break starts around 2:51):

Kenny Washington also recommended to me the following recordings to further check out examples of Shadow Wilson's fine and diverse drumming:

Count Basie - "America's #1 Band"
Thad Jones - "Detroit/New York Junction"
Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane - "At Carnegie Hall"
Fats Navarro/Tadd Dameron - "The Complete Blue Note & Capital Recordings"


  1. Thanks again for the great info Jonathan! I have also heard Kenny talk about Shadow Wilson but haven't been able to find him on many records beyond that Monk recording, so I will definitely check these out. Kenny is a jazz superhero, and a super thoughtful and generous person as well.

  2. Thanxs for this post. Shadow Wilson is fantastic!

  3. Shadow's playing on Mulligan & Monk is also wonderful.