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Joe Lee Wilson

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Biography

One of the '70s most striking jazz vocalists, Joe Lee Wilson blended a strong, stirring baritone voice and good delivery with a swinging style and savvy selection of material. The results made him quite popular for a few years, especially on college campuses in the Northeast. Wilson studied classical singing, and attended Los Angeles City College in the '50s, where he studied jazz. He toured the West Coast and Mexico as a jazz vocalist in the late '50s and moved to New York in 1962. Wilson worked with Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, and Jackie McLean in the '60s, then in 1971 and 1972 sang with Archie Shepp. His dynamic lead vocals on such Shepp albums as Things Have Got to Change and Attica Blues won Wilson recognition, as did his recordings as a leader and performances with Sunny Murray, Mtume, and Billy Gault. Wilson operated a loft in New York, the Ladies Fort, from 1973 to 1978, and appeared at the 1973 Newport in New York and the 1975 Live Loft festivals. He recorded with Clifford Jordan in 1977, then moved to London in 1978. Wilson toured Europe, performed in London clubs, and did some periodic New York dates, but never regained his earlier momentum. Many of Wilson's albums were reissued on CD in the 2000s, and Shepp's Attica Blues was reissued in 1993.

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