Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Teddy Wilson, in his typical quiet fashion, has been one of the most influential jazz pianists. During the late '30s and early '40s he inspired a swarm of imitators, and even later, his elegant sytlings were reflected in the work of such artists as Hank Jones.
Wilson, who is featured this week at Blues Alley, spent much of his first set Tuesday night on tunes associated with his former employer Benny Goodman. This was not unexpected, since Wilson first received widespread attention as a member of the celebrated Goodman trio and quarter of the '30s.
This was no exercise in nostalgia, however, for Wilson, 65, can still make songs he has played for over 40 years sound fresh. Two of these, "After You've Gone" and "Running Wild," were up-tempo features that would deter many a younger musician, but Wilson negotiated them with ease. He also reworked a number of other Goodman-associated standards, including "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Poor Butterfly" and "Moonglow."
Wilson then delved into the Kuke Ellington and Count Basie repertoires, touching on seven Ellington classics and a Basie-like blues. Almost as a throwaway, he played an unaccompanied "Prelude to a Kiss," that made one wish for more solo playing.
For the most part, though, the pianist was assisted by bassist Bill Nelson and drummer Bill Reichenbach. Both were workmanlike musicians, although Nelson had a few shaky moments on "After You've Gone."