This talented bassist is one of the rare examples of a player on this instrument who functioned well in both the traditional jazz and blues idioms. For example, how many bass players could say they had worked with both Jelly Roll Morton and John Lee Hooker? Of course, he played tuba in Jelly Roll's band, but that was what bass players did back then. One could say they don't make them like they used to, and they made few like Quinn Wilson.
He started with violin as a child, going on to study both composition and arranging. He began working professionally around the mid-'20s, and was in demand among leaders such as Tiny Parham, Walter Barnes, and Erskine Tate, with whom he worked regularly for three years beginning in 1928. His assignment with Jelly Roll Morton was more of a temporary thing, including recordings done in 1927. He also recorded with the interesting pianist and bandleader Richard M. Jones in 1929. In the '30s he played with the exciting bands of Earl Hines serving busily as both a bassist and arranger from 1931 through 1939. During this time he also cut sides on bass with Jimmie Noone, the low end brass instruments seemingly now collecting dust in the closet. Big changes loomed ahead for him musically in the next few decades. He was innovative in picking up the electric bass, which increased the amount of freelance work he could get. He gigged for more than a decade with the rhythm & blues group of Lefty Bates and recorded with many blues singers including the great John Lee Hooker. At least a half-dozen fine Hooker albums feature Wilson on bass, and he does a better job following this elusive master of non-chord changes than most bassists. The Fantasy "two-fer" double-album reissue entitled Boogie Chillun is a good example of what happens when Wilson boogies with the hook. He also kept up his jazz chops, playing with the clarinetist Bill Reinhardt in the '60s trumpeter Joe Kelly in the following decade. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi