By Phillip Milano
An impromptu performance with iconic jazz trumpet player Wynton Marsalis – and years of hard work – has landed a JU senior playing time with another legend and even a bit of screen time on the CBS TV show “60 Minutes”.
Corey Wilcox, 25, a trombonist and music performance major, was part of a group of players filmed at a concert and recording session for a segment slated to air at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, March 30, on WTEV TV-47 highlighting the career and upcoming CD of Jacksonville jazz legend Marcus Roberts.
The TV spot focuses on a documentary being made about Roberts’ life and his efforts to create the CD “New Orleans Swing Time,” featuring the music of Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. Roberts, 50, is a 1981 graduate of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine.
Roberts happened to be on hand back in August of last year when Marsalis, a cultural correspondent for CBS who had the idea to profile Roberts, hosted a small jam session at The Parlour in San Marco (see video at http://youtu.be/Mk0RZ5PK9o8).
“I got tipped off and some of us brought our horns, and they called us up to play,” Wilcox said. “I guess Marcus liked what he heard.”
More than just liked. Roberts wrote a letter to Wilcox’ mother formally inviting him to take part in recording sessions a couple of weeks later in Tallahassee that were filmed by the 60 Minutes crew.
“After hearing your son Corey play during the jam session in Jacksonville the other night with Wynton Marsalis and myself, I was very impressed with Corey's immense talent and obvious dedication to jazz music,” Roberts wrote. “Based on high recommendations from other musicians who also speak favorably about Corey's work ethic, his dedication, and his genuine desire to pursue a career in music, I would like to include him in a recording project that will be put out some time next year, and part of which will be filmed by the television show, 60 Minutes … Corey has tremendous potential, and I look forward to mentoring him.”
For Wilcox, it’s all been more than a bit exciting.
“It’s one of the biggest music experiences I’ve had, to play with a legendary jazz pianist like Marcus Roberts,” he said.
Wilcox has a pedigree of his own. He began his trombone studies at age 13 and attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville. He performed in the All-State Jazz Band for three years, received the prestigious Essentially Ellington Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center and studied at Oberlin College and Conservatory. His father, Wycliffe Gordon, is a world-renowned trombonist and friends with Marsalis who has recorded about 20 albums of his own.
Wilcox also recorded his own CD of 11 original works titled “I Could Imagine,” and plans to study at Juilliard or the Manhattan School of Music upon graduation from Jacksonville University.
Wilcox’ mother, Danielle Wilcox, a JU Social Science major who plays clarinet in the JU Wind Ensemble and will graduate next year along with Corey, said she’s watched him blossom as a player and a person.
“It’s like a dream that this is all happening. It’s ovewhelming,” she said. “You’re gasping for breath, that your son is going to be on TV, remembering all the 13-hour practice days. When he played at the Apollo I freaked out, when he played at Lincoln Center with Wynton I had to pinch myself … it’s the same thing now.”
She credited JU with stabilizing Corey and helping him become a “responsible young man” who is receiving a sound academic education.
“They are getting him prepared for what’s out there in the real world, helping him evolve into an adult. He’s become a role model here.”
John W. Ricci, Director of Jazz Studies in JU’s College of Fine Arts, praised Wilcox for his dedication and talent, and held him out as an example of the high caliber of students selecting JU for its unique music programs, which focus on personalized attention and professional preparation.
“He could actually perform John Coltrane's ‘Giants Steps’ in 12 keys by the time he was a senior in high school. He composes incessantly,” he said. “His pieces offer a wonderful balance of modernity and tradition, with evocative melodies in the spirit and influence of both Wayne Shorter and Duke Ellington.”
Wilcox was equally praiseful of Ricci, and expressed gratitude for his mentorship.
“He’s helping me on how to better approach the tunes I’m writing, and he’s really one of the jazz masters in the world.”
Jacksonville University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music. For more about the JU Division of Music, visit http://www.ju.edu/cfa/Pages/Music.aspx.
Media contact: Phillip Milano, JU Director of News and Publications, firstname.lastname@example.org, (904) 256-7042.
About Jacksonville University
Jacksonville University works to prepare each of its more than 4,000 students for lifelong success in learning, achieving, leading and serving. Its nearly 200-acre riverfront campus is just minutes from downtown Jacksonville and the Atlantic Ocean. It has been named one of “America’s Best Colleges” for 10 straight years, and ranks in the top 1% among all Florida colleges for Return on Investment for its graduates. With a 12 to 1 student-faculty ratio and full-time faculty percentage of 80 percent, it offers small class sizes, inviting campus grounds and engaged faculty and staff in a setting that promotes community, ambition and responsibility. JU has nearly 190 full-time faculty and offers more than 70 majors, programs and concentrations. Additionally, it offers graduate degrees in business, choreography, education leadership, marine science, mathematics, nursing and orthodontics. JU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).