A guitarist with a flawless technique and imaginative chordal approach, Jack Wilkins has been
astounding jazz fans since the early 1970s, playing at the highest level on the international scene and
collaborating with many of the greats including Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan,
Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy Rich and many others.
A native of New York, Jack began playing the guitar at age thirteen and was teaching by the age of
seventeen. The musicians who have influenced him the most are those who display the elements of
virtuosity, precision and harmonic sophistication which characterise Jack's own playing; players such
as Johnny Smith, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Bill Evans,
Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard, while the celebrated composer, Russell Garcia has said of him:
"Jack Wilkins is a monster, he plays the guitar like Oscar Peterson plays the piano."
His approach to jazz is also heavily informed by classical and South American genres and players such as Julian Bream and Baden Powell, as is evident on his 2009 album, Until It's Time, where classical themes by Beethoven and Antonio Lauro feature alongside choice standards
by Bacharach and Mancini.
Windows (1973), Jack's first album as a leader has been critically acclaimed as a dazzling, seminal
guitar trio work, setting the standard for all his subsequent recordings such as Merge (1977) and
Reunion (2000), featuring Randy and Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette. Other
notable recordings include Trioart (1998) and Project G7 (1993), a two CD set tribute to
Wes Montgomery featuring, among others, Kenny Burrell. In recent years, Jack has played many
international festivals with jazz greats Stanley Turrentine, Red Rodney and Johnny Griffin. In 1977 he
had the opportunity to collaborate with Charles Mingus and has since taken part in a 1991 world tour
of The Mingus Epitaph, and 5 Guitars play Mingus in 1996 which featured guitarists Larry Coryell
and Russell Malone. An endorser of Benedetto guitars, he can also be seen on the DVD,
The Benedetto Players in Concert along with fellow guitarists
Jimmy Bruno, John Pisano and Randy Johnston.
Jack is also a consummate accompanist, having played and recorded with renowned singers
Mel Torme, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr, Tony Bennett,
Cassandra Wilson and Manhattan Transfer, and is also a leading exponent of improvised solo jazz
guitar. The latter, he says, began in earnest during his time with the Buddy Rich Septet when the
eponymous leader left the stage one night asking him to “play something”. In his solo performances
Jack presents imaginative arrangements that display a mastery both of his instrument and of the
harmonic landscape of the Great American Songbook.
Having appeared at the 2001 North Wales International Jazz Guitar Festival, Jack Wilkins makes a
welcome and much anticipated return to Wrexham with this concert that places him alongside the
pre-eminent double bass and drums of Bill Coleman and Dave Hassell respectively, and which will
also feature the top-notch guitars of the UK's Trefor Owen and Andy Hulme who have toured
extensively together as a duo, presenting their unique arrangements of classic jazz standards.