It’s been a wee while since my last update and there is much to tell. 

Firstly and most importantly, the band’s autographs for the Kickstarter rewards have been sorted - please refer to the photos for evidence. Now all that’s left is for me to sign, seal and deliver. I have a day set aside this coming weekend so your wee gifts will be winging their way to you very shortly. 

Some wonderful and significant progress has been made with the Philippa Project, the director Pia Furtado and myself have been meeting regularly since we returned from New York and we now have the ‘Timetable of Wonder’. This is a joy to me and my OCD tendencies and a whole new world to the artistic and creative nature of Pia. It is a thing of beauty and includes everything, and by everything I mean EVERYTHING, we need to do to get this show on the road. Our lives are now plotted out on an Excel spreadsheet for the next two years. Sigh. 

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to enjoy some truly uplifting cultural events, I took Abram’s pianist Reuben James to see Gregory Porter as part of gorgeous vocalist Georgia Mancio’s ingenious Revoice Festival, now in it’s third year. Reuben and I discovered the soulful tunes of Mr Porter last year at the London Jazz Festival and were delighted and uplifted by his beautiful and powerful voice. I also went to see Beasts of the Southern Wild again, I promise this is the last time I’m going to mention it but it is amazing and is now being tipped for an Oscar. And last week Abram’s bassist, Alex Davis and I took a little trip to West London to see new playwright, Vickie Donoghue’s first play Mudlarks. It’s just finished a month long run at The Bush Theatre after rave reviews. I’m a big fan of Ms Donoghue. Just three years ago life threw her a pretty big curveball and she decided it was time to get focused and do something she felt passionate about, writing. Going to see her play and watch her take the leap from ‘desk job’ to professional writer has been nothing less than inspirational. 

It reminds me of Abram, and how determined he was to create and perform music. He knew from very early on what he wanted to do and he didn’t let anything get in his way. I know of many people who he inspired, people who have left their jobs or taken demotions at work so they can pursue their dreams. So in keeping with the theme of inspiration, I came across this little video the other day and wanted to share it with you. The gentleman speaking is British philosopher Alan Watts, his key question is ‘What do you desire?’. Of course, whichever road you choose is not going to be easy. But if there’s one thing Abram taught me, it was to take the road you really want to head down and no matter how hard it gets, never give up.

Till soon!


Jennie x




Today is the four month mark since Abram passed. 

I wanted to remember him today by sharing some of the work he had been doing with Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall (THSH).  As you may recall Abram had been announced as the venue's first Jazzlines Associate Artist earlier in the year, formalising his relationship with the then Director of Programming, Paul Keene, the venue's new jazz programme, Jazzlines, led by Tony Dudley Evans and Mary Wakelam, as well as their incredible education team headed up by Katie Banks.

Abram had worked with THSH on and off for a number of years.  In 2011 he led a jazz education project that was delivered over a number of months spreading the jazz love far and wide to the community of Birmingham, culminating in a joyful day of performances and workshops. 

Above is a short film giving you an insight into just how inspiring and infectious Abram's passion for jazz music was.

The signings for the Kickstarter rewards are almost done, just one more bandmember to go.  He's popping over on Friday to grace me with his autograph for a couple of hours so hopefully I'll be able to start posting out stuff pretty soon.

I hope you can take a moment from your day to think about Abram and that big ole smile of his. We miss him, but his legacy and vision live on.

Till soon!


Jennie x

Photo credit: Rich Spencer 






Apologies for the delay in updating you. New York was pretty insane, that combined with jet lag and a serious iPhone back up/update issue has meant no new post until now.  But here it is!  It's a long one, so time for that coffee break. 


Now, where to start? Well, the trip couldn't have gone better. I met Pia Furtado (the theatre director with whom Abram and I were working earlier this year) last Monday and we packed as much into our week as possible.  There was very little sleep to be had and many wonderful, as well as slightly crazy moments.


We began our first day in an adorable little cafe in Harlem, which basically became our pit stop on the way to the Schomburg Center for the rest of the week.  It was the first of many conversations about the project where we discussed what we felt we needed to do to make it happen and how we were going to move forwards without Abram.  As we were talking an elderly gentleman came and sat down next to us and instantly recognised the image on the book I'd placed beside me.  The book was Composition in Black and White by Katherine Talalay and the inspiration behind the whole Philippa project.  I can not recommend it highly enough, it's a fascinating read. 


He said "Mmmmm...Philippa Schulyer...what you ladies doing reading about her?".  It was first-hand evidence of the impact that Philippa had had on the community of Harlem well beyond her life-time.  Many young African-Americans today don't know who she was, yet back then she was held up as a role model for the black community across the country, particularly for African-American women.  The older generation still remember her 45 years after she died. 


Our days consisted of research in the Schomburg Center, split between three departments.  The first was the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books division with the amazingly helpful Diana Lachatanere and Miranda Mims.  It was here we got to go through a lot of Philippa's scores, her novels, letters, and random notes and thoughts. Then there was the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division where we were helped out by Alison Quammie and listened to Philippa's performances, interviews and talks as well as an interview with her parents after her death, who spoke about having established the Philippa Schuyler Memorial Foundation.  And finally, there was the Photographs and Prints Division run by the lovely Mary Yearwood where we looked at hundreds of images of Philippa from a baby upwards.


During our time at the Schomburg Center Diana Lachatanere got in touch with the author of Composition in Black and White, Katherine Talalay.  She had said that she'd like to meet us and Diana gave us a number to call (see photo of me on the phone calling Katherine).  We managed to arrange a meeting that afternoon.  I was pretty overwhelmed at the thought of finally coming face to face with the woman who had unknowingly been the catalyst for Abram's project and the reason we were in New York. 


Kathy unsurprisingly turned out to be a truly remarkable and extremely interesting person.  The two hours we spent with her flew by and I knew that if Abram had been with us he would have loved every minute of it.  He had always wanted to meet Katherine and I told her later that if he had been there they would have probably spent the whole night talking, Abram would have just had so many questions.


Our evenings consisted of a lot of Harlem soul food, music, theatre and even a bit of movie magic.  Pia and I checked out a jazz-theatre piece at a respected off-Broadway theatre, which we didn't particularly like but felt encouraged that an attempt had been made to combine the two genres, had achieved good reviews and was in the middle of a pretty successful one month run.  We watched the Beasts of the Southern Wild, which you should all go and see immediately as it's the most beautiful film ever. And then there was the jazz.  There was jazz at Dizzy's where the very helpful Michael Mwenso ushered us in as his guests and gave us tips on other gigs we should see, Small's, 'The Dive', the Rubin Museum of Art and my personal favourite, Sista's Place in Brooklyn.


Highlights included the exceptional Jonathan Batiste and the extraordinary Keith Loftis.  The latter was a key member of Abram's band when he lived in New York and a close friend.  Getting to know Keith and watching his quartet perform a tribute to John Coltrane was one of the most inspiring and profound nights of my life.  In between all this we met the equally warm hearted and talented saxophonist, Myron Walden who knew Abram from playing in Roy Hargrove's big band with Keith.  Both Pia and I were delighted to spend some time with him during our last few days in New York and we were very touched by his generous spirit.


And our final day?  Well, a girl can't go to New York and not get a mani-pedi, so that's exactly what we did.  After an extremely hectic but incredibly moving week, we felt like we deserved it. 


Our days in New York were not without their moments of sadness and we thought about Abram the whole time we were there.  It was his trip and I wish he could have made it.  However, we both felt very strongly that he was there in spirit, helping us to keep going and finding ways of letting us know we were on the right path.   


If I had to sum up the whole New York experience in one word it would be...epic.


Thank you for your support, it's because of you that this incredible, life changing jouney took place.  


Till soon!



Jennie x



Hopefully you'll have a received a message asking for your details so I can send you lovely things.  If you haven't and you know I definitely don't have your address then send me a message via Kickstarter or to management@abramwilson.com. Even if you didn't ask for a reward I'd still like to write and say thank you so please send me your address. 

It would seem that you have to answer all the questions on the survey, so if there's a box that needs filling in, in order for you to complete it just write 'thank you' or something similar. 

I'm aware that some of you didn't make it to the memorial service on 25th July, and I thought it would be nice to share one of the readings from the day.  It was read by the theatre director for the Philippa Project, Pia Furtado.  It's called Poem by Helene Johnson, an African-American poet who was writing during the Harlem Renaissance. As that's where I'm headed very soon I thought you might like to have a copy, even if you made it to the service. 

The day I chose it, I was sitting at home with one of my best friends going through the different ideas I had for the readings.  I already had two that I was sure about, both had strong connections to Abram.  The poem had been sent by a lovely lady from Louisiana called Roselyn, and I loved it but I was struggling with the fact that there wasn't a strong enough link to Abram i.e. it's not a poem we were aware of when he was here.  

I suddenly remembered that our friend Sophie had given us a book of jazz poems as a wedding gift, so off I went to find it saying out loud how Abram and me had such different ways of working.  I said "if Abram was here, he'd just say 'Great! that's the one' and move on to the next thing.  But I like to cover my bases and make sure I haven't missed anything.  It would drive him crazy sometimes, I always wanted to do more research and he always wanted to make the decision and move on".  Anyway, I found the book.  It was brand new and untouched.  I sat down and flicked it open onto a random page.  And there is was, staring right back at me Poem, by Helene Johnson.  I just looked up and said, "okay man, you win, we're going with this one". 

Little brown boy,
Slim, dark, big-eyed,
Crooning love songs to your banjo
Down at the Lafayerre--
Gee, boy, I love the way you hold your head,
High sort of and a bit to one side,
Like a prince, a jazz prince. And I love
Your eyes flashing, and your hands,
And your patent-leathered feet,
And your shoulders jerking the jig-wa.
And I love your teeth flashing,
And the way your hair shines in the spotlight
Like it was the real stuff.
Gee, brown boy, I loves you all over.
I'm glad I'm a jig. I'm glad I can
Understand your dancin' and your
Singin', and feel all the happiness
And joy and don't care in you.
Gee, boy, when you sing, I can close my ears
And hear tom-toms just as plain.
Listen to me, will you, what do I know
About tom-toms? But I like the word, sort of,
Don't you? It belongs to us.
Gee, boy, I love the way you hold your head,
And the way you sing, and dance,
And everything.
Say, I think you're wonderful. You're
Allright with me,
You are.

After the service, when I collected all the beautiful messages that people had left, I finally understood why the poem had struck a chord with me. Someone had quoted Abram from a gig that I had also attended in March this year "I may no be a King of Jazz - yet. But I'm definitely a prince"

And that is the story of Abram and the Jazz Prince.  Thank you to Dylan Bate for sending me this wonderful image of Abram which was taken in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2004. 

My next update will be from New York, I'm excited and nervous.  Wish me luck!

Till soon! 


Jennie x


Good Morning!

I hope this email finds you well as the summer draws to a close and a new season begins.  Although the sun is still shining here in London, you can feel a slight autumnal chill creeping in.  I'm not much for cold weather, and nor was Abram.  One thing we never argued about was whether to put the heating on, it was one of those British idiosyncrasies that neither of us could understand.  If it's cold, turn on the heating, right?  Wrong! 

We bonded over the numerous battles we had fought with this surprisingly stubborn mentality.  We had both found that the majority of Brits seem to prefer to be cold rather than turn on their radiators.  I am definitely an exception to the rule which led to our home being cosy and warm all the way through winter.

I will miss Abram's grumbles and complaints about the cold weather, his insistence on wearing his winter coat permanently, with a big scarf wrapped around his neck, hunched over his laptop writing his next piece of music.  I will miss that and more. 

It's almost exactly three months since Abram passed away.  So much has happened, a trip to the States to say goodbye, a joyful memorial service in London to celebrate an incredible man and of course the most amazing support from you to kick start the Abram Wilson Foundation.  Your involvement in this journey has helped me, his family and close friends more than you can imagine, so thank you.


So what's next you might ask?  Well, first things first. I'm going to send out a message via Kickstarter to obtain your contact details so I can mail all the various goodies I promised you at the beginning of the campaign.  Please don't ignore the message when it comes or you won't get your treats.  I'm going to be away for a couple of weeks so won't be able to sort out delivery till October as I need to make sure everything is signed by Abram's band members and that could take a minute.  I hope this is okay.


Some folks' donations didn't go through.  If this was the case and you would still like to donate then just drop me an email at management@abramwilson.com and we can sort something out.  I can see the names, but unfortunately I can't contact you individually.


I'm in the process of doing several things at once, which includes registering the Abram Wilson Foundation as a charity.  This is a pretty long and arduous process but we have set the wheels in motion so I'm pretty excited about that.  More announcements to follow. 


I've received the live recording of the Philippa music which took place at the Oxford Jazz Festival in April this year.  I have to say, it was pretty cool listening to Abram talk to the audience before each tune, slowly revealing the life story of Philippa Schuyler.  There are a few things that I'm waiting to hear back on before we can properly start moving forwards on the album release but the process is underway which is awesome!


And finally, the jazz-theatre piece inspired by Philippa Schuyler's life, what of that? I hear you ask. Well, the theatre director who Abram had started to work with earlier this year, thanks to a grant from Arts Council England (the English government) is currently in New York so I'm heading out to join her on 17th September for a week.  We're basically planning to be holed up in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture where we'll be going through Philippa's archives - her music, her photos, her notes and many more things to develop the next stage of the piece.

We're also hoping to meet with some people who can help us form our new team, which will involve the very intimidating task of finding the right artists to take on Abram's music, lead the musicians, perform trumpet (jazz and classical) and act.  We're pretty sure it will have to be more than one person to fill Abram's very big shoes, I'm not joking he was a size 11.5 in the UK.

So if you have any thoughts on people we should be checking out then please drop me an email: management@abramwilson.com

To celebrate this exciting trip to New York City I'm leaving you with one of the tunes from the Philippa Project, The Harlemites.  This represents the community of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance.  They knew about Philippa before she was even born and were committed to helping her succeed from the very beginning.  Abram would always tell his audiences that this piece was about upliftment.

Have a lovely weekend.

Till soon!


Jennie x


Congratulations founding brothers and sisters of the Abram Wilson Foundation, WE DID IT!!! 

We raised a total of $18,338 on Kickstarter but we also raised approximately $3,000 at Abram's memorial service, which makes a total of $21,338!!!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!

I've been away for a few days without internet connection so to come back to this incredible result was beyond amazing.  I imagine Abram is up there saying, "Awesome Jennie.  That. Is. Awesome", with a big fat grin on his face, eyes sparkling. 

Tomorrow is Abram's birthday, he would have been 39.  He wasn't much of a birthday person, he would be very serious when the big day eventually came around getting up at the crack of dawn to put himself through a hard core routine of exercise and practice time.  For Abram, his birthday was the beginning of a new year, it was the day he would think about everything he'd achieved and how he wanted to move forwards.  It wasn't a day for parties and presents. 

So last year, having accepted that he wouldn't want to celebrate in the traditional way, I gave him his birthday present the following day with a note saying 'Abram, Happy Wednesday, Love Jennie xxx'.  It was a poster of one of his idols, Michael Jackson, on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.  For the first time in about 24 hours Abram finally broke out into a big smile, he loved Michael Jackson, loved his music and for once loved his present so much that he didn't mind getting one! 

As it is Michael Jackson's birthday today and Abram's birthday tomorrow I thought I would celebrate by sharing a performance of the Jackson 5 reunited for the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special broadcast on 16th May 1983.  I remember the day Abram introduced me to this little YouTube gem, he couldn't believe I'd never seen it before.  When we watched it together, it was like he was a small kid taking it all in for the first time, even though I knew he'd seen it a million times before.  Great music would always do that to him.

I'll be in touch again with news about the Philippa Project and the Foundation, but for now I hope you enjoy the music.

Till soon!


Jennie x



It's official, we have nearly reached the end of the online fundraising campaign for the Abram Wilson Foundation.  It's been almost two months since we launched our Kickstarter page and we have gone above and beyond what we thought was possible raising $16,283 so far!  Thank you so much. 

For those who have yet to donate, there is still time - 50 hours to be precise so please give your friends and family a wee nudge if you think they'd like to make a pledge and tell them to follow this link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/abramwilson/philippa-the-abram-wilson-foundation

This is my last update before the campaign ends on 25th August at 6:28pm (British Summer Time).  As the Paralympics are gearing up to take over from their 'warm up' act AKA the Olympics, I thought I would revisit Abram's Olympic Septet project which opened at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London on 2nd May and also performed at Bedales Arts in Petersfield and Cheltenham Jazz Festival. 

As you may remember Abram had decided to arrange folk songs from around the world in a jazz style for a septet, which included his usual rhythm section of Alex Davis on double bass, Dave Hamblett on drums and Reuben James on piano and featured Jean Toussaint on tenor and soprano sax, Peter King on alto sax and Winston Rollins/Trevor Mires on trombone.  

One of the tunes is called 'Pokarare Ana', a popular folk song from New Zealand and sometimes called the country's unofficial national anthem.  It's a love song which emanated from the North of Auckland and was popularised by Māori soldiers who were training near Auckland before being sent off to fight in Europe during World War I. The lyrics go something like this:

The waves are breaking, against the shores of Waiapu,
If you cross them girl, they will be calmed,
Oh my beloved, come back to me, my heart is breaking for my love for you.

I have written you a letter, and enclosed with it my ring,
If your people should see it, they will know how troubled I am.
My poor pen is broken, my paper is spent,
But my love for you endures, and remains forever more.
Oh my beloved, come back to me, my heart is breaking for my love for you.

The sun's hot sheen, won't scorch my love,
Being kept evergreen, by the falling of my tears.
Oh girl, Come back to me, I could die of love for you.

I've included a short clip of Abram's septet performance at Bedales Arts on 4th May as well as an original version of the song.  You'll have to forgive the really cheesy images, but it gives you an idea of how Abram went about arranging the tune.  

The next time I'll be in touch the campaign will be over and the work will just be beginning, thank you for helping me keep Abram's legacy alive.

Till soon!


Jennie x



I hope you had a lovely weekend, it was baking here in London!

I wanted to write a quick update today because:

1) We are just $37 away from raising $16,000 for the Abram Wilson Foundation!  Thank you to those who have donated over the last few days. 


2) Rhys Phillips from Radio Cardiff did a great Jazz Profile on Abram yesterday evening.  It features Abram's music and a few words from me as well as British saxophonist and good friend Jason Yarde

It's about an hour so maybe one for the lunch break this week.

You can listen to it by clicking HERE.

For some reason I was having problems accessing it using Firefox, but Google Chrome seemed to be okay.

Just five days to go till the Kickstarter fundraising campaign ends, thank you so much for your support and if you haven't had a chance to donate then here's the link:


Till soon!


Jennie x


It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing with Abram Wilson on trumpet, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Alvin Atkinson on drums and Reginal Thomas on piano

Hey Pete, Let's Eat More Meat featuring Abram Wilson on vocals

The Kickstarter campaign for the Abram Wilson Foundation has been amazingly successful, we've raised nearly $15,300 and have got just over a week to go. Woo-hoo and thank YOU!

I'm hoping we can give it a big push over the next few days before the campaign ends on 25th August.  If you know someone who's talked about donating but still hasn't got round to it, now's the time to remind them : ) 

TO DONATE FOLLOW THE LINK: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/abramwilson/philippa-the-abram-wilson-foundation

The other day I was speaking to one of Abram's best friends, best man at our wedding and photographer extraordinaire Ben Amure.  He reminded me of a schools concert Abram did at the Barbican Centre in London a couple of years ago with the incredible Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and two other members of Jazz at Lincoln Center; Alvin Atkinson on drums and Reginald Thomas on piano.  I remember going to the gig and watching the auditorium fill up with hundreds of young kids, all there to learn about jazz music! 

I'd never seen Wycliffe Gordon perform before and it was the first time I'd ever seen anyone play a trombone like THAT.  Alvin Atkinson tore that kit up as did Reginald Thomas on his instrument.  All of them were able to explain the basics of jazz music with so much enthusiasm and clarity that you were left wanting more. 

People often ask about Abram the artist and Abram the educator, but for me there was no difference.  Part of what made Abram such a great musician was his ability to educate his audience and bring them into his world.  By the same token, one of the reasons he was such an inspiring educator is because he was a wonderful performer and talented musician, kids were captivated by his playing and drawn to his energy and love of jazz.  As the Foundation grows my aim is to enable more young people to experience music in this way.

So here are a couple of short videos from the Barbican concert.  The first one is a little introduction from Abram and Wycliffe before they go on to perform the classic 'It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing'.  The second video is a performance by Abram singing another well known jazz tune, 'Hey Pete, Let's Eat More Meat'.  The performance starts at 2mins 43 seconds. 

Till soon!


Jennie x


THE ABRAM WILSON FOUNDATION has raised $14,855 and has 17 days to go till the online fundraising campaign ends. 

We're aiming for $20,000 so please keep letting people know about it as we're pretty close to reaching this target.  IF you still haven't made a donation you can do so by clicking HERE.

I'm sure most have you have been glued to your computer screens watching the Olympics, especially if you live in London.  Many people I know who don't usually pay any attention to sports are completed addicted, there's something about watching a lifetime of work come to fruition that is extremely inspiring and uplifting - athletes finally getting their moment of glory after years of dedication, pain and endless days of training.

It reminds me of Abram and his attitude to his craft.  Every day he would spend hours practicing, it had been like that for as long as he could remember.  One of his brothers once told me that when Abram was much younger he spent an entire summer perfecting one note.  One note!  That would be enough to drive most people insane. I think it probably sent his family up the wall, but Abram was so determined to improve he didn't care.  His trumpet always came first.

Today I wanted to share a behind the scenes video of the Abram Wilson Quartet, with Alex Davis on double bass, Dave Hamblett on drums and Reuben James on piano.  This is them getting ready for one of their first gigs together, which was at Twickenham Film Studios last year on 1st July.  It shows Abram going over the set list and introduces the tune Steak n Potatoes, which is part of the Philippa project. 

I love this video because you can see Abram is really focused on the task in hand but he's also taking the time to bring in the band members and make them feel cool about the gig.  It was a big performance for them, the gig was being filmed and would be streamed live to eight cinemas across the UK and one in Norway.  It was the first time they would play the Philippa music together in front of an audience so it was important the band felt confident about the set list.  Abram was extraordinary not just because he was talented, but because he was both a leader and a mentor to many of the musicians he worked with.

I've included an unedited version of Steak n Potatoes, made during a rehearsal leading up to the Twickenham gig.  As Abram explains in the video, this tune is about Philippa's father George Schulyer, a black journalist from Harlem who liked his food!

Tomorrow will be two months since Abram passed away, I hope you will take a moment to remember him.

Till soon!


Jennie x