Without A Song
02. The Midnight Sun Will Never Set
03. Soul Lady
05. Hawk Is Talkin
06. Hey Look At You
07. Why Did You Come Into My Life?
08. Return Of The Prodigal Son
09. Feeling Good
Acoustic Bass – Bob Cunningham
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Monty Waters
Congas – Rashid Ali
Drums – Art Lewis
Guitar – Kenny Burrell, Wally Richardson
Percussion [Latin] – Rumas Clinton Barret
Piano – Danny Mixon (tracks: A5, B4), Kenny Barron
Tenor Saxophone – George Barrow
Trombone – Astley Fennell*
Trumpet – Jim Bossy, Martin Banks, Virgil Jones
Vocals,arranged By – Joe Lee Wilson
Recorded Nov. 11 and 12,1969 at A&R Sound Studio,N.Y.C.
Part African-American and part Creek Native American, Wilson was born in Bristow, Oklahoma, to farming parents Stella and Ellis Wilson.
As his band's name, Joy of Jazz, suggests, Wilson's baritone personified the life-affirming nature of jazz and blues. Seeing Billie Holiday perform in 1951 began his interest in a music-industry career. Moving to Los Angeles at the age of 15, he went to Los Angeles High School, where he majored in music and sang in an a cappella choir. Graduating with honors in 1954, he won a scholarship to the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, where he studied opera, leaving after a year and then attending Los Angeles Junior College. He began singing with local bands in 1958 and toured the West Coast, where he sat in with Sarah Vaughan, and down to Mexico. Relocating to New York in the 1962, he worked with Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard, and Jackie McLean. During the 1970s, Wilson operated a jazz performance loft in New York's NoHo district known as the Ladies' Fort at 2 Bond Street. His regular band, Joe Lee Wilson Plus 5, featured the alto saxophonist Monty Waters (from Modesto, California) and for several years the Japanese guitarist Ryo Kawasaki, before the latter left to lead his own group. Archie Shepp and Eddie Jefferson were frequent collaborators at these sessions.
He also sang with Eddie Jefferson, Freddie Hubbard, and Kenny Dorham. He recorded a live radio program at WKCR-FM, Columbia University, on July 16, 1972, which was released as an album, Livin' High Off Nickels & Dimes, on the short-lived Oblivion Records in New York. Wilson's rendition of "Jazz Ain't Nothing But Soul" was a radio hit on New York jazz radio in 1975.
In 1977 he and his English wife Jill Christopher moved to Europe. While based in Paris, Tokyo, and the United Kingdom (for a time living in the London flat of Val Wilmer, before settling in Brighton, Sussex), he recorded regularly with the American pianist Kirk Lightsey, including the Candid recording Feelin' Good. One of Wilson's last albums was an Italian recording with Riccardo Arrighini and Gianni Basso, Ballads for Trane (Philology W707.2).
Wilson was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in November 2010, where he gave his last public performance. Having had heart surgery in 2009, he died of congestive heart failure at his Brighton home in 2011, aged 75.
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.