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To inaugurate the 2011-12 jazz season at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., director of jazz Kevin Struthers wanted something special and different. So he called on go-to alto sax man Steve Wilson, and Wilson delivered an all-star jazz group — Bruce Barth (piano), Michael Bowie (bass), Lewis Nash (drums) — plus three violins (Diane Monroe, Matvei Sigalov and Naira Underwood), a violist (Dawn Michelle Johnson), a cellist (Troy Kenneth Stuart) and high expectations.
Wilson has long been one of the busiest players in jazz. And yet he says that playing with a string section is one of the most exhilarating experiences he's had on the bandstand. For him, the strings have an emotional sound that is close to the human voice, and he shapes his solos to fit that sound. Wilson's personal favorite of the Charlie Parker With Strings songbook is our closing song, "Repetition," by Neil Hefti. Be sure to catch the performance at 6pm this Friday on this week's Jazz Set.
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