Theodore Shaw "Teddy" Wilson (November 24, 1912 – July 31, 1986) was an American jazz pianist whose sophisticated and elegant style was featured on the records of many of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Wilson was born in Austin, Texas in 1912. He studied piano and violin at Tuskegee Institute. After working in the Lawrence "Speed" Webb band, with Louis Armstrong and also "understudying" Earl Hines in Hines's Grand Terrace Cafe Orchestra, Wilson joined Benny Carter's Chocolate Dandies in 1933. In 1935 he joined the Benny Goodman Trio (which consisted of Goodman, Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa, later expanded to the Benny Goodman Quartet with the addition of Lionel Hampton). The trio performed during the big band's intermissions. By joining the trio, Wilson became the first black musician to perform in public with a previously all-white jazz group.
Noted jazz producer and writer John Hammond was instrumental in getting Wilson a contract with Brunswick, starting in 1935, to record hot swing arrangements of the popular songs of the day, with the growing jukebox trade in mind. He recorded fifty hit records with various singers such as Lena Horne and Helen Ward, including many of Billie Holiday's greatest successes. During these years he also took part in many highly regarded sessions with a wide range of important swing musicians, such as Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Shavers, Red Norvo, Buck Clayton and Ben Webster.
Wilson formed his own short-lived big band in 1939, then led a sextet at Café Society from 1940 to 1944. He was dubbed the "Marxist Mozart" by Howard "Stretch" Johnson due to his support for left-wing causes (he performed in benefit concerts for The New Masses journal and for Russian War Relief, and chaired the Artists' Committee to elect Benjamin J. Davis). In the 1950s he taught at the Juilliard School. Wilson can be seen appearing as himself in the motion picture The Benny Goodman Story (1955).
Wilson lived quietly in suburban Hillsdale, New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s. He performed as a soloist and with pick-up groups until the final years of his life. Teddy Wilson died on July 31, 1986.
He was interred at Fairview Cemetery in New Britain.
Teddy Wilson o Theodore Shaw Wilson (24 de noviembre de 1912, Austin, Texas - 31 de julio de 1986, New Britain, Connecticut) fue un pianista y director de banda estadounidense.
Liderando su propia banda, entre 1935 y 1937 realizó una serie de grabaciones históricas con la vocalista Billie Holiday y el tenor saxo Lester Young que son clásicos del swing. Después Wilson se unió al trío de Benny Goodman en 1936, para más tarde en 1940 desempeñarse como líder de conjuntos reducidos o como solista, demostrando así su refinada y artística mezcla de estilos.
Wilson volvió a grabar con Lester Young a mediados de los años 50 cuando, a lo largo de dos días de grabaciones, sacaron dos álbumes clásicos para la discográfica de Norman Granz, Verve Records. El primero, Prez and Teddy (1956), como el Lester Young & Teddy Wilson Quartet (con Jo Jones y Gene Ramey) y el segundo, The Jazz Giants '56, con los mismos músicos, más Vic Dickenson, Roy Eldridge y Freddie Green.