Photo: Laura Vakil (trustee), Flo Butler (trustee), Laura Palmer (trustee), Jennie Cashman Wilson (CEO & founder)
Today is a year since we gathered on London’s South Bank, in 30 degree heat, to say goodbye to a friend, brother, son and husband. It was a day of joy and celebration with fellow musicians, friends and fans coming together to create an uplifting afternoon filled with the sweet sounds and colours of Abram’s home, New Orleans.
It seems fitting therefore that just a week ago the trustees of the Abram Wilson Foundation and myself came together to discuss the future of the Foundation. We recognise that the current projects we’re working on, an autumn tour and the Philippa Project, are legacy projects. They are inspired by what Abram and I were delivering last year, projects which he never got to see through to the end. It’s one of the reasons I decided to bring some of his band members back together, giving them an opportunity to finish what we started.
Sadly, I have had to replace Abram’s bass player, Alex Davis due to other commitments, but we wish him well and every success for the future. I am however, thrilled to announce that our new bass player is Ronnie Scott’s regular, Mark Lewandowski and when not performing there, can be found touring the rest of the UK with a wide range of other musicians.
Meanwhile, the Philippa Project is still in motion as we hunt for the right composer to continue Abram’s work. Pia Furtado and I believe we are nearly there and are hopeful that we’ll be able to make some significant progress during the latter part of this year.
But what then? Where does the Abram Wilson Foundation head after these projects are completed? This is what I’ve been working on over the last few months. I’ve spent some time with the wonderful Andrew Missingham, an exceptional creative consultant who really got to grips with helping me clarify the million and one thoughts and ideas swirling around my head. My trustees have been nothing but supportive of the direction we’re taking and we very much hope to add some new minds into the mix this autumn. We are still honing the vision but what I can say is that the Foundation will be underpinned by something Abram once said:
“Though life is hard, I come from a history of greatness and I will be great”
I was able to experience some of that greatness on Tuesday night at Ronnie Scott’s thanks to Wynton Marsalis’ quintet. It seems like no time at all that Wynton, his drummer Ali Jackson and other members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra appeared out of nowhere to join the second line parade in honour of Abram. It was good to see Wynton, good to see him play, and good to remember what inspired Abram to do what he did. Greatness awaits.