Vocalist Joe Lee Wilson dies at 75

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Joe Lee Wilson, a jazz vocalist with an eloquent baritone voice, one of the leaders of New York's jazz loft movement of the 1960s and '70s, died Sunday after a long illness. He was 75.

 Wilson entered the NBC-TV contest "Talent Search" in 1968. He tied for first place with a band called Sly and the Family Stone, and his prize was a deal with Columbia Records. But after he recorded there, the label declined to release any of his songs. He decided to stay in New York and rented a building on Bond St. that he renovated into a 100-seat performance space he called Ladies' Fort. That became one of the regular stops for jazz artists, while Wilson himself performed with musicians like Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Sunny Murray and Archie Shepp.

He made some of his best-known recordings with the avant-garde Shepp, including the politically charged "Things Have Got To Change" in 1971 and "Attica Blues" in 1972. They collaborated that same year on a live album recorded at Columbia's WKCR, "Livin' High Off Nickels and Dimes." He had a minor New York radio hit a few years later with "Jazz Ain't Nothing But Soul." In 1977 he moved to England and he lived and performed in Europe for the rest of his life.

Last modified on Friday, 15 August 2014 12:48

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