The close-knit UK jazz community has been shaken this weekend with the news of multi-award winning, trumpeter, vocalist, educator and composer Abram Wilson's untimely death. My interaction with him was fleeting, at most - maybe one or two quick conversations on Twitter in the past couple of years...
Students, former college bandmates, fans, family members and musicians have expressed their sadness, shock and loss on both his website and his Facebook page.
I wanted this to be a post that honored what his life meant to them. Below you will find a few of the ways Abram Wilson touched lives with love, compassion, and a gentleness of spirit.
I pray that God strengthens his wife, family and friends as they go through these next few days and beyond.
"I am completely blown away by this. We were very good friends in college, but had lost touch. My prayers go out to his family in this time. So sad." - Sam B.
"Very sad news to hear. I met Abe in Rochester, NY and coming from New Orleans to upstate, I was so excited to know that he also was from the Crescent City. We played together, competed with each other, and represented the music at our best together. His passion was relentless. To all of those that were touched by his presence and music- my deepest sympathy." - Gray M.
"Abram was my college roommate. He always inspired me with his passion for his work. From carrying his trumpet with him 24x7, to the late, late nights he spent perfecting his craft. Even then, Abram was a reminder to us all to follow our passion and work hard to make it happen. He was always quick with a laugh. Farewell, old friend." - Erinn N.
"Such a shock to hear the sad news this morning. We first saw Abram play with Dr John; he really lifted the concert with his virtuoso trumpet playing. It was his passion for music and his infectious smile that we most remember. We saw Abram again in Plymouth and he was just the same on and off stage. Such a delightful man with an amazing musical gift. He was also most communicative and we had enjoyable facebook chats late at night on all kinds on topics e.g. the Golden Girls! Cannot believe the news. Our sincere condolences to Jennie and his family." - Richard R.
"What an inspiration. Rest in peace..." - James W.
"My morning was rocked today when I received the news that trumpeter Abram Wilson had died. I was shocked, stunned, and saddened by this news. Abram was born in New Orleans, LA and he attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in the late 80's-early. His class included such musicians as Nicholas Payton, Adonis Rose, Jason Stewart, and many others. My father had a jazz camp at UNO in the summer of 1990 and it was then that I first met Abram Wilson. One night, Delfeayo called me and asked if I wanted to see the NOCCA Jazz Ensemble at Snug Harbor. When we went, the group consisted of pianist Dwight Fitch, bassist Jason Stewart, drummer Adonis Rose, and trumpeter Abram Wilson. We enjoyed the show and were pleasantly surprised by the different tunes they were playing.
After Abram graduated, I didn't see him very much. I know he went to Ohio and then Rochester but then I lost track of him. At some point in 2007 I remembered Abram and decided to look him up online. I discovered that he was living in London and making records. I even purchased the album "Jazz Warrior" and loved what I was hearing. Shortly afterward, I was able to catch up with Abram on Facebook. On November 16th 2009, I played a show at Wigmore Hall in London, England with Marcus Roberts and Abram came backstage. It was the first time I had seen him in about 18 years. Later he joined us at a jam session at Ronnie Scott's. It was great playing with Abram again. We kept in touch and he asked me to play with him for a Christmas concert he did in December last year. I had a great time catching up with him about New Orleans and playing his music. The last time I saw him was when I returned with Marcus to London this past March and Marcus invited Abram to play with him on a song during a set at Ronnie Scott's. We all had a great time.
A few weeks ago, I did receive an e-mail from Abram stating that he had to cancel a few shows because of illness and I didn't think much about it. It was today that I found out here that Abram had died of cancer. I really shocked me and put me in a sad state as I realized that one of my great musical friends was gone. The one positive on this sad day is that I did get to play with Abram before he left us and that is a privilege. I was able to experience his positive energy not only in his music but as a person. It is energy that he possessed that we all need more of. R.I.P. Abram Wilson. You will be sorely missed." - Jason Marsalis
"RIP to a beautiful artist with a smile as reliable as the trumpet he always carried with him. What a devastating loss. Condolences to his family." - Catherine O.
"I join my friends from OWU and countless others around the world in mourning the death of jazz trumpeter, Abram Wilson. I am saddened to know the life of such a talented man has ended far too soon. Certainly, Abram did not waste one moment of his time here on earth. I will never forget his delight in magically producing his trumpet from the folds of his graduation gown to bless us all with a tune. My sympathies to all who knew him well." - Lisa L. F.
"RIP to trumpeter, New Orleaninan and fellow New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) grad Abram Wilson. I only encountered Abram once but it was very memorable to me. It was on a day that I was substitute teaching for Clyde Rudolph Kerr Jr. at NOCCA and Abram was in town visiting. I had never heard of him prior.
He came into the classroom and I noticed that his vibe was very different than ALL of the trumpeters I had known up to that point...there was none of that machismo posturing that seemed to be the prerequisite of the day. Instead, he seemed genuine...a very gentle soul. He had such an ebullient personality and just wanted to play...literally, that's what he kept telling me, with a huge smile on his face, "...I just want to play!".
For a young, impressionable trumpeter (me), that moment stood out. I was still trying to figure out who I was in this pantheon of jazz trumpeting, and meeting Abram gave me an alternative to the "cookie cutter one size fits all" personalities I was surrounded by. From that point on, I followed his career and was most impressed with his individuality. Unlike some, who trash the roots and foundations on a quest to be hip and innovate, Abram seemed to be deeply rooted in the true spirit of the music, yet still having the confidence AND audacity (dare I say), to be himself. That, my friends, is what this music has been and prayerfully will always be about.
I hope this post encourages his fans, friends and family to hold onto his legacy. I also hope that if you've never heard of him, that you'd take the time to look him up." - Thaddeus James Ford
"I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Abram on several occasions. He was a great musician whose passion for jazz, jazz education and working with young musicians was inspiring. He was so supportive of my own first steps in jazz education and I will miss him greatly. My sincere condolences to his friends and family." - Sandra M.
"The Oxford Jazz Festival sends their love and condolences to Abram's friends and family. He was a wonderful man and musician, and will be greatly missed by all. We were lucky to have met him, and will continue to enjoy his beautiful music."
"I will always remember when you came up and jammed with us!!
Your playing and presence turned a good gig into a great gig! A night all of us in the group will never forget! from us all! God bless." - Jay F.
"With a pain in my heart I read this and can not express my feelings for the loss of one of the great musicians of our time. You left us too soon my friend. Say Hi to Duke and the rest up there!" - Eric G.
"I know abram very closely he was more than my music teacher he was my friend and mentor i saw him just 3 weeks ago he was just a bit tired i am in total shock. R.I.P abram R.I.P" - Omari A.
"Saddened by a rush of tears by the news of Abrams passing. He played a trumpet solo of Londonderry Air from a balcony at my late Mother's funeral in November 2010. Atmospheric and uplifting, understandably, not a dry eye in the house. I remember with fondness the late nights he would practice at Dune Music's offices in Harrow. If he saw me, he would open the window and play me something special. A talented human being with compassion and empathy, a unique gentleness with I thought endless time to give to everyone he touched. My condolences to his wife Jennie, his family and all his colleagues and fellow musicians." - Kieran M.
"I know without Abram in the story of my own music career, there would be a significant chapter missing. He was the first musician/artist to get me into the live music scene when I lived in London, and working with him gave me so much access and knowledge of the city. I think I played all of 30+ gigs with him in just one year's time, alone, and in some of London's most famous spots, including my first time performing on stage of the Jazz Cafe. But aside from those things, he was a good guy, a very sincere and considerate brother who looked out for you if you needed his assistance, and was very passionate about quality music and the legacy we had to play a part in to continue and bring to the masses who may have forgotten what music like that sounded like. This is a very sad day in finding out that he is no longer with us, but in another sense, it is a beautiful thing to read these comments and see how many people have been touched by his light, and an inspiration to pursue your life's goals if you but remember a man who was unafraid to pursue his and help people realize their's...that is a legacy worthy to share with the world, and he deserves it!" - Ahmed S.
"I met Abram while he was a student at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He was performing in various venues in the area and word got around quickly about this talented young man. We got to speak with him and found that he as not only talented but warm and funny. There are so many memories, but one of my favorites is the time we invited him to our house for dinner before he was to set out to New York City.
It was a combination Farewell & a birthday party for one of our family members. I made my "famous" home made spaghetti sauce with pasta. A large batch, I thought. That was before Abram started digging in. He told us that his mother always said that if you appreciate a good meal, you should show it. And show us he did! The rest of the family just stared in awe. Where was this skinny kid putting all that food?! My husband just quietly got up and put on another pot of pasta so that we could give him some to take home. I still smile thinking of it. Naturally, he brought along his trumpet so that he could "sing for his supper". I will miss his sunny smile and his warmth. My deepest condolences to his family and close friends. May your happy memories bring you comfort." Delore M.
R.I.P. Abram Wilson