Buster Wilson

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A Southerner by birth, pianist Buster Wilson moved to Los Angeles as a child and wound up confining most of his musical activities to the New Orleans jazz scene that took root in the shadow of the Hollywood…
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A Southerner by birth, pianist Buster Wilson moved to Los Angeles as a child and wound up confining most of his musical activities to the New Orleans jazz scene that took root in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills. Wilson's career was short: he was only 52 years old when he died of complications from pneumonia in 1949. He worked with bandleader Kid Ory much of that decade, other than bowing out due to illness in 1946.

Wilson began gigging in La-La Land as a young man with Dink Johnson's Five Hounds of Jazz, at times getting more attention from the municipal dog catchers than the listening audience. The pianist subsequently started a cooperative combo with associate Charlie Lawrence, a saxophonist and clarinetist. The group developed into the Sunnyland Jazz Orchestra. Then both Lawrence and WIlson became involved with Paul Howard's orchestra, sometimes known as Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders.

During 1935 Wilson joined the rhythm section of the first big band organized by Lionel Hampton. This big-name affiliation has not succeeded in dominating Wilson's discography, as is the case with some of Hampton's historic sidemen. On that front, Wilson's recordings with the aforementioned Ory and reedman Bunk Johnson run about equal with the pianist's appearances on many compilations. Wilson also did some solo piano work in the Los Angeles area during the second half of the '30s. In 1996 the American Music imprint released a collection of Wilson's work in the late '40s, more specifically 1947-1949.