Wilson Somers: Biography
Coming Soon: The Essential Wilson Somers, a compilation of Somers’ original jazz compositions from the past 30 years, from albums such as Avalon Serenade, the documentary Edward Loper: Prophet of Color, Forever You, and A Jazz Christmas. Featuring Bill Stumm on bass and Joe Mongillo on drums. Bonus track includes a previously unreleased live performance of “Pavane For a Dragonfly,” featuring alto saxophonist Ed Kirkpatrick, Pete Paulsen on bass, and Glenn Fericone on drums.
Somers’ Style Influenced by the Jazz Piano Greats
The jazz piano artistry of Wilson Somers flowered during his tenure (1986-1999) as house pianist and band leader for the former Rodney Square Club of Wilmington, Delaware. It was during that time that he developed his elegant style of jazz.
Somers’ jazz style influences include jazz piano greats Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Nat Cole and Oscar Peterson.
Photos Copyright © Herman Leonard Photography L.L.C.
Somers’ Work Includes Documentary and Motion Picture Sound Tracks
In 1999, Somers was approached by Delaware film producer Sharon Kelly Baker of Teleduction to record piano scores for documentaries on Delaware visual artists. Of the four films produced by Teleduction, the work about Edward L. Loper earned Somers an Emmy Award for his original jazz compositions and performance.
A new documentary film by Teleduction & Serviam, “With All Deliberate Speed”, includes original works by Wilson Somers as well as Somers’ piano interpretations of classic Spirituals. Sharon Baker again serves as Senior Producer.
“With All Deliberate Speed” was first broadcast on PBS in Philadelphia on May 17, 2004 (marking the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision to desegregate U.S. Public Schools) and was re-aired that evening at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Somers’ Sound track Work Leads to Debut CD
His seminal CD released in 2000, Wilson Somers jazz composer/pianist with Bill Stumm, bassist, is music from the sound track of Edward Loper: Prophet of Color. The film has been repeatedly broadcast on local NPR stations in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Feature original tracks include: Highlighted Rhythm, Waltz for Joan, Jumpin’ Jitterbug, Caesar’s Mood, Acro-flight and Springtime in Paris. Other features include: Avalon by Jolson/DeSylva/Rose, For Heaven’s Sake by Meyer/Bretton/Edward, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Trad. Spiritual/Arr. Burleigh) and Johnson Rag by Lawrence/Hall/Kleinkauf.
Somers Second CD Features Classics by the “Duke”
The next year Somers produced Wilson Somers in the footsteps of the duke with selections from the Ellington/Strayhorn canon with some innovative additions. Balboa Bossa, a Somers’ original, was written on the back of a napkin during a flight from the Balboa/ Newport Beach California area to Philadelphia.
Feature original track: Balboa Bossa. Duke Ellington feature tracks include: Satin Doll, Mood Indigo, Prelude To A Kiss, Come Sunday, and Heaven. Strayhorn feature track: Take The A Train. Other features include: Mojave by Jobim, You Don’t Know What Love Is by Raye/DePaul, What A Wonderful World by Weiss/Thiele, and Beautiful Love by Young.
Somers Dedicates Third CD to his Wife, Joan
Wilson Somers’ Forever You followed in 2002 featuring jazz classics of Ellington, Brubeck, John Lewis and more. The title track is Somers’ original contribution to the album dedicated to his wife, Joan. As always, Bill Stumm’s bass accompaniment is exceptional.
Feature original track: Forever You. Other feature classics include: In A Sentimental Mood by Ellington, Nature Boy by Ahbez, Body and Soul by Green/Heyman/Sour/Eyton, Spring Is Here by Rodgers/Hart, Gentle Rain by Bonfi, Yesterdays by Kern, Django by Lewis, In Your Own Sweet Way by Brubeck, and Night and Day by Porter.
Somers Jazzes Up the Holidays
Wilson Somers’ A Jazz Christmas, again features outstanding sideman contributions from bassist Bill Stumm as well as cellist Marianne Manring on a new Wilson Somers arrangement of Bach’s timeless Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.
This collection of holiday favorites by jazz masters Thad Jones, Mel Torme and classical masters Bach and Pachelbel will warm your heart while you trim the tree.
Feature original track: Kringle Kat. Contemporary holiday feature tracks include: The Christmas Song by Torme/Wells, White Christmas by Berlin, Winter Wonderland by Bernard/Smith, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Coots/Gillespie, I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Kent/Gannon/Ram, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Martin/Blane, and A Child Is Born by Thad Jones. Classic holiday tracks include: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach), What Child Is This? (Trad. / Arr. Somers), Silent Night (Trad. / Arr. Somers), and Canon in D (Pachelbel / Arr. Somers)
Somers Latest Jazz Trio CD Receives Critical Acclaim from Academic and Mainstream Experts
According to Michael Arenson, Professor of Music Theory at the University of Delaware, Wilson Somers avalon serenade, released in late 2005, is a collection of “inventive interpretations of [jazz] standards” to “original compositions that are both melodically and harmonically rich…This CD is a must for any jazz aficionado’s collection.” Read the Reviews.
Odean Pope, world reknown jazz tenor saxophonist, has this to say about Wilson Somers avalon serenade – “Your Trio is focusing on some wonderful concepts, playing together collectively, individually and improvisationally. Play as much as possible, and be true to your own highest convictions.” Odean Pope is a virtuoso musician who was featured soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra on Duke Ellington’s “The Three Black Kings” and has been a member of the Max Roach Quartet for two decades. Visit Odean Pope’s Website.
Feature original tracks include: New Day, Sandpiper, Avalon Pier, Jumpin’ Jitterbug and Highlighted Rhythm. Feature classics include: What Is This Thing Called Love? by Cole Porter, Avalon by Jolson/DeSylva/Rose, What Am I Here For? by Duke Elllington, Meditation by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Nardis by Miles Davis (Arr. Wilson Somers), All The Things You Are by Jerome Kern, and Our Love Is Here To Stay by George Gershwin.
Wilson Somers is also an accomplished composer and conductor of large-scale sacred works for chorus, soloists and orchestra.
His compositions: Mass for the Homeless and Requiem for 9/11 have received critical acclaim. In 1997, the “Mass” premiered to a sold out audience at the Grand Opera House featuring the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Previews and additional performances, together with the 1997 premier and 1999 encore performance, raised over $100,000 to benefit a number of local homeless agencies in Wilmington, Delaware.
His second major classical work, Requiem for 9/11, was performed to an audience of over 800 at the Grand Opera House on November 25th, 2012. This concert raise $10,000 for the Flight 93 National Memorial. For more information, visit requiemfor911.org.
Teaching & Music Direction are Somers’ Core Professions
As an educator, Somers is Director of Choral Music for the Tatnall School in Greenville, Delaware. He also serves as Music Director/Organist for The Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.