When Toni Wilson mounts the bandstand at the Bayou tonight it will be in the way of a homecoming for her although she has never sung there. As a youngster in the 1950s, she was often taken to the club by her mother on Sundays to eat pizza and hear her father, Don Wilson, who played piano with cornetist Wild Bill Whelan's band.
"When they miraculously and at very short notice landed this date for a benefit for me, I said, 'Boy, sometimes there are no coincidences.' It just felt like that would be the place." The program will be a fundraiser to help Wilson pay for upcoming major surgery. "This is going to be a hot concert," adds Wilson. On the bill are the combos of Tim Eyermann, Jon Carroll, Tom Principato, Charlie Barnet and "one or two surprise groups."
Wilson's two decades of professional activity have included performances in the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium with Mike Crotty's Sunday Morning Jazz Band, "working as a singer at the hottest nightclub in Rio de Janeiro" and appearing with her own trio at many area clubs. Her voice plays a role in a 1980 Pat Metheny-produced album of drummer Bob Moses' orchestra, Wilson says, adding that "a highlight of my career was being invited to sit in with Dizzy Gillespie's band at Blues Alley."