Saxophone Giants: Legends Celebrated As Acclaimed Jazz Musician Is Remembered @ Brighton Dome

A little more than a year after the death of acclaimed jazz trumpeter and composer Abram Wilson, his former manager and widow Jennie Cashman Wilson has put together a band that will visit Brighton this autumn.

It is an opportunity to celebrate the life of her husband and pay tribute to some of the greatest saxophone players in the history of jazz, including Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson and John Coltrane.

Wilson, originally from New Orleans, had lived in the UK for ten years and was working on a number of projects, including a UK tour, when he fell ill and died of cancer in June 2012, aged just 38 years.

The Brighton date is part of a tour, labelled Saxophone Giants, which begins at the end of October and runs until the start of December.

In the quintet are long-time friend and bandmate from Wilson’s New York days, American saxophonist Keith Loftis and the much loved, virtuoso tenor player Jean Toussaint, former band member of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.

They will be joined by two more recent members of Wilson’s band, rising star, Reuben James, who the Times said, “…is fast becoming Britain’s best young jazz pianist” and the highly respected drummer Dave Hamblett.

Completing the group will be the young, but extremely accomplished, Mark Lewandowski on double bass.

For Jennie, who has established the Abram Wilson Foundation for Creative Arts to continue her husband’s legacy, the tour will be an emotional one, but something she felt driven to do.

Jennie said: “This tour brings together so many elements that Abram valued, such as the extraordinary talents of Toussaint and Loftis, two jazz musicians for whom he had an infinite amount of respect and members of his young rhythm section, James and Hamblett, whose potential he could see long before anyone had really heard of them.

“(They) will be playing the music of some of jazz’s greatest saxophonists, highlighting the enormous emphasis that Abram placed on the history of jazz and its importance in informing the future of the music.

“This tour is a ‘legacy project’ for the Abram Wilson Foundation.  

“It is inspired by last year’s 20-date tour, which Abram and I had worked so hard to organise but which he never got to see through to the end. 

“I felt it was important to bring some of his band members back together, giving them an opportunity to learn from each other, play some great music and finish what we started.”

Saxophone Giants play Brighton Dome on Sunday 17th November. See for more details.

By Mike Cobley