Posts Tagged ‘Ron Wilkins’

Big XII Conference Review

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

The following post includes a conference review written by James Decker.

The Sixth Annual Big 12 Area Trombone Conference was held January 16 – 18 at Texas Tech University. The Conference’s guest artists were Jim Pugh, internationally acclaimed jazz artist; Debbie Taylor, Principal Trombonist of the New Mexico Symphony; and Brian Allen, jazz artist/composer/arranger. All three artists performed fabulously and conducted clinics that inspired all attendees.

Additional highlights included tenor and bass solo competitions (the latter was sponsored by Edwards), a burnin’ jazz jam, an exciting faculty showcase recital, and many inspiring clinics and presentations.

The Solo Competitions featured student musicians from all over the country, including Ohio University, Northwestern University, The University of Texas, and Oklahoma State University.

Brian HechtBass competition results:
First Prize: Brian Hecht, Northwestern ($1000 Edwards gift certificate)
Second Prize: Noel Seals, Oklahoma State University

Tenor competition results:
First Prize: Isaac Washam, Oklahoma State University
Second Prize: Steve Jessup, Oklahoma State University

Congratulations to Brian and his teachers, Charles Vernon, Michael Mulcahy and Peter Ellefson. Edwards artist Paul Compton is doing something special at Oklahoma State. His students continue to do well in solo and ensemble competitions.

Featured performers and clinicians included Jon Bohls, bass trombonist and music director of the “Slideshow” trombone ensemble of Dallas, Dr. Jeffrey S. Cottrell of Hardin-Simmons University, Dr. Bill Mann of the University of Missouri, Dr. Raimundo Morales of West Texas A and M, Dr. Donny Pinson, graduate of the University of North Texas, Gerald Sloan and the University of Arkansas, Ron Wilkins of the University of Texas-San Antonio, Dr. Steve Wilson of the University of Texas-El Paso and Dr. Thomas Zugger of Capital University. A listing of the wonderful presentations and performances appears below.

The feature program showcased Jim Pugh with the Texas Tech University Jazz Ensemble I. Jim’s playing was very fluid, relaxed and creative, and the Big Band played with great energy and precision. The interaction between Jim and the big band was exhilarating to experience. In addition, Jazz Ensemble Director Paul English and Jim played a piano/trombone duet together which was musically and theatrically innovative.

Overall, the conference was an inspirational gathering of fine students, performers and educators.

Ron Wilkins Sent to Siberia

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

On March 6th, my compatriots (Joel Dilley-Bassist and Darren Kuper-Drummer) and I flew from San Antonio, TX to Moscow, Russia to perform with Internationally renowned classical and jazz pianist and recording artist, Valeri Grohovski. I met Valeri in 1991 when he was a visiting professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and was immediately impressed by his virtuosity. He’s one of the greatest pianists in the world and it was a great honor to be invited to perform with him. After a couple of transfers in Cincinnati and New York, we were on our way to Moscow. Some eight hours later, we arrived in Moscow, went through customs and happily met Valeri and his two friends, Sergei and Misha, who helped us with our gear and drove us to Valeri’s exquisite apartment overlooking the Moscow river. We settled in, went over the tour schedule, had a marvelous lunch, and hit the road for our first of twelve concerts in sixteen days.

Our first concert was in the resort city of Magnitogorsk, some 3 1/2 hours (by plane) northwest of Moscow. We checked in late that night to the hotel affiliated with the concert hall and got some much needed rest. The next day we were served breakfast at the concert promoter’s office and viewed the hall. It was a large, 1500 seat auditorium (in need of and currently under restoration) with decent acoustics. Later that day, we had our sound check, went over the set list, and got ready for the performance. That evening the hall was packed and we blew them away. The songs we performed that evening, and the rest of the tour were:

First Set

  1. I Got Rhythm-Gershwin
  2. On Green Dolphin Street-Kaper
  3. Misty-Garner
  4. A Kiss to Build a Dream On-Armstrong
  5. It Don’t Mean a Thing, if it Ain’t Got That
    Swing-Ellington (this was particularly fun because the
    audience sang the "doo-wah’s"-the Loved it!!)

Second Set

  1. I Loves You Porgy-Gershwin (solo piano
    improvisation by Valeri-it was magical!!)
  2. Nostalgia in Times Square-Mingus (a bass
    trombone/acoustic bass duet-Very Cool!)
  3. Clark Terry’s "Mumbles" (some crazy scat singing)
  4. What A Wonderful World-Armstrong (the Russians
    loved this one too!)
  5. Fly Me to the Moon-a Sinatra Tribute
  6. Bernie’s Tune-B. Miller

We had standing ovations after every performance, and great receptions after wards. After the third performance, word spread throughout the tour that this group was "outstanding" and a "must hear." If fact, the Russian audiences nicknamed me "The Black Trombone (go figure)." I felt like a rock star!

After Magnitogorsk, we played concerts in Ekaterinberg (a beautiful concert venue with lots of marble and big acoustics), Kamensk (small, but decent hall), Perm ( an excellent hall, very big city, great people), Chelyabinsk (an 500 seat Organ recital hall-nice!), Surgut (live from Siberia-Brrrrr!!), Omsk (more Siberia-very cold weather, very warm people), back to Moscow for one of four concerts (two at jazz/supper clubs, one at Valrei’s high school, and the final one at Moscow’s main concert hall venue, Dom Musikee). We had one other concert in Kalingrad (they love Valeri there-nice old cathedral converted into a concert hall) before our final three concerts back in Moscow.

Before our last concert, Valeri expressed his joy and gratitude by telling us he plans to come back to Texas this summer and record a CD with us. We were ecstatic with this news, and spoke of plans to return next year for more performances, as well as proposing a European and Asian tour. The tour was a huge success, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. We also made some great new friends (Sergei, Misha and his wife Tanya) and returned with enough memories to last a lifetime.

I was particularly pleased that my health was good throughout the tour. I had my blood pressure and kidney medications with me and took them twice a day as prescribed. The food was great, we had excellent libations (especially the vodka-magnificent!), all our transport, meals, and lodging were covered, and we took some interesting train rides (including one 28-30 hour trip) on the Trans-Siberian Railway. It’s good to see that jazz music (and American jazz musicians) is really appreciated in Russia, and I look forward to the next opportunity to perform there again. My Edwards Model B454 Bass Trombone (with D slide attachment) was a big hit with Russian musicians (particularly trombonists). They were thoroughly impressed with it’s big sound and flexibility. The horn held up very well on the road, and I’m thrilled with the craftsmanship and detail. It’s an AWESOME horn (lovingly named “Odin”).


Ron Wilkins

Ron Wilkins in Russia

Ron Wilkins in Russia

Ron Wilkins

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Ron WilkinsAs many of you know, Ron Wilkins was recently hospitalized due to problems with his kidneys. He has since returned home and his long-term prognosis is very good. In fact, he’s ready to start gigging again (but at a much slower clip — no more 3-4 gigs a day!).

Like many musicians, Ron doesn’t have health insurance. There will be a benefit concert at the Luna Fine Music Club on January 27 to help defray the cost of his hospital stay and continuing recovery (prescriptions, doctor visits, etc.). Please mark your calendar. If you can’t attend and would like to make a donation to help Ron’s family, you can do so in a number of ways:

Send a Paypal donation to

Send a check payable to Ron Wilkins to:
Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 2097
Universal City, TX 78148
(The credit union asks that you write “For deposit only” on the back of the check)

Drop a check by any RBFCU branch. To find the nearest location, visit

Ron and his family appreciate your support.