tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Abram Wilson Foundation 2013-10-08T16:36:35Z Abram Wilson Foundation tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349696 2013-04-07T13:22:49Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - A MEMORABLE NIGHT IN OXFORD

Photo credit: Benjamin Amure 

One year on and Abram's rhythm section and I returned to Oxford on Friday 5th April to remember the beginning of the Abram Wilson 2012 tour, a celebration of 10 years in the UK. 

The evening was a truly special one, filled with the sound of Abram's music and his spirit.  The band (Reuben James on piano, Dave Hamblett on drums and Alex Davis on double bass) did him proud and delighted an initimate audience of fans and friends, old and new, including the prolific jazz photographer David Redfern and his long-term partner Suzy Reed

The winners of the all important raffle were: 

Max Mason - signed unedited limited edition CD of Philippa

Steve Smith -  signed unedited limited edition CD of Philippa

Joseph Taylor -  signed unedited limited edition CD of Philippa

Robert Abbot - one-off, signed, framed photograph of Abram by Edu Hawkins

We raised a nice, tidy sum of just over £300 thanks to the overwhelming support of Max Mason and his team at the Big Bang Restaurant in Oxford and of course the extraordinary photographer Edu Hawkins

Upcoming Dates

5th May 2013 - You can catch the trio again at Cheltenham Jazz Festival on Sunday 5th May at 3pm in the Parabola Arts Centre where they will be joined by the gorgeous Zara McFarlane.  Book tickets HERE

4th June 2013 - And on Tuesday 4th June at Birmingham's Symphony Hall, where they'll be performing from 5pm in the foyer.  This will be our only public event to mark one year since Abram passed on 9th June 2012 and entry will be free. 

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend. 

Till soon!


Jennie x


Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349700 2013-04-04T12:41:38Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

Photo credit: Benjamin Amure 

Tomorrow we'll be remembering the beginning of something. Exactly a year ago today Abram's band and I started a 20-date tour that would be cut short two months later due to cancer. It hardly seems any time at all that Abram and I were preparing for his quartet to perform at Pizza Express Jazz Club on 4th April 2012. Two days later we headed off to the Oxford Jazz Festival excited and high off a 4**** review in the Guardian by John Fordham who described the Philippa Project as "a work in progress that will be fascinating to follow". 

I remember chasing one of the organisers of the Oxford Jazz Festival back in 2011, trying to persuade him to book Abram's quartet. He kept emailing me saying he'd bear it in mind - never a good sign in my opinion! But it turned out I was wrong and Oxford became the second of a string of dates that would become more memorable than I could have ever imagined. 

On 25th May the tour ended abruptly, and two weeks later Abram lost his life to a very short battle with cancer. He never got to go back into the recording studio as we'd planned, or develop the Philippa Project into a jazz theatre piece. But it's worth bearing in mind that during what would turn out to be his last year with us, he wrote some incredible new music. There were three other projects besides the Philippa tunes that he'd premiered in public between April 2011 and May 2012 and we could all see that Abram was really starting to come into his own, both as a performer and a composer. 

Yesterday I read the author Iain Bank's personal statement explaining that he has cancer and his life will end in a few months. It was beautifully written, simple and very honest. It struck me that his experience almost runs parallel with Abram's. The time lines are very similar, just a year later; Banks began noticing pains in January but put it down to work before finally paying a visit to his GP in mid-February which is exactly when Abram went to see his doctor. When Banks was recently informed that he had late stage gall bladder cancer and there was nothing they could do, he asked his long-term partner to become his 'widow'. 

The only difference between Iain Banks and Abram is time. More time to live, Banks is 59, more time to be with his partner, six years instead of three, and more time to acknowledge that time has run out. When Abram was told it was terminal and he only had a few weeks left to live, he said that he still had so much he wanted to do. I am sure it is exactly the same for Banks. Time is relative after all, and no matter how much you get, you will always want more. 

I'm grateful for the time Abram and I had together; we didn't have much but we had enough to focus on the important things which is what Banks is doing now - spending his last remaining months with his family and friends. Banks' work is done now, as was Abram's before he passed; Banks' final book has been written and Abram's last piece of music was finished on 17th April 2012. But as another author, Mitch Albom, once wrote "All endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time". 

Tomorrow we will be remembering the beginning of the end, an ending which turned out to be the start of something very special, the Abram Wilson Foundation for Creative Arts. It is my new beginning and one that I'm happy to share with Abram's band - Alex Davis, Dave Hamblett and Reuben James as well as the lovely people of Oxford, Max Mason and the staff at the Big Bang Restaurant, photographer Edu Hawkins who documented the Oxford Jazz Festival gig last year and of course my rock solid new trustees, Laura Palmer, Laura Vakil (née Biddlecombe) and Flo Butler.

I very much hope to see some of you there.  

Address: The Big Bang Restaurant, 42 Oxford Castle Quarter, Oxford, OX1 1AY

Doors: 7pm  

Tickets: £10 each which includes a raffle ticket

Prize: A one-off signed photograph of Abram performing at the 2012 Oxford Jazz Festival by Edu Hawkins

All proceeds from the raffle will go directly to the Abram Wilson Foundation. 

I just want to finish by leaving you with a classic Marvin Gaye tune, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) which I'd like to dedicate to Iain Banks and his new widow, Adele. I hope they make the next few months count. 

Till soon!


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349701 2013-03-17T16:17:54Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - 5TH APRIL MEMORIAL GIG & FUNDRAISER IN OXFORD

Photo credits: Edu Hawkins and Benjamin Amure 

I'm delighted to announce that Abram's rhythm section will be returning to Oxford, 12 months since they performed together at the Oxford Jazz Festival as part of Abram's quartet in 2012.  It will be their first gig together this year.  The evening will be in memory of Abram and our first small fundraiser for the Abram Wilson Foundation. 

The performance will take place on Friday 5th April at The Big Bang, a restaurant owned by one of the Festival organisers, Max Mason.  Entry is £10 per person, and includes a £5 raffle ticket which will be entered into a prize draw on the night.  


The prize will be a unique photograph of Abram performing at the Oxford Jazz Festival on 6th April 2012.  Featured above, the image was taken by the highly respected music photographer, Edu Hawkins.


Edu has kindly donated the one-off piece, printed using the hand-made process of applying silver leaf to photographic prints.  When asked about the image, Edu had this to say: 


"Beyond fantastic musicianship, Abram Wilson’s performance at the Oxford Jazz Festival was a demonstration of the depth of his knowledge and appreciation of history, as well as his passion and talent for sharing it with others.

Sometimes the most telling moments in a musical performance are the ones when nothing happens. This image is an example of such an ‘in between’ moment, a visual representation of focus, contemplation, intelligence, integrity and sincerity, a few of the qualities Abram Wilson had to offer, and ones that the work of his Foundation seeks to remind us of."

Max Mason is equally reminiscent: 

"Abram Wilson's appearance at the Oxford Jazz Festival was outstanding, a tremendous artist with heart and soul to inspire the next generation and Abram clearly loved doing just that.  With this raffle and performance, in our own very small way, we celebrate a life, a talent and the continuation of his work through the Abram Wilson Foundation."

When: Friday 5th April 2013

Where: The Big Bang, 42 Oxford Castle Quarter, Oxford, OX1 1AY 

Doors: 7PM

Reservations & Dinner: If you would like to reserve a table for dinner please call the restaurant on 01865 249413

Entry: £10 (includes x1 raffle ticket worth £5)

All funds collected from the raffle tickets will go directly to the Abram Wilson Foundation.  We hope that some of you will be able to join us to mark this special occasion in remembering an extraordinary musician.  

Please note that the prize does not include postage and packaging : )

Till soon! 


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349706 2013-02-23T15:30:40Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - MY HEART BELONGS TO NEW ORLEANS

Jean Toussaint, Keith Loftis, Reuben James, Alex Davies, Dave Hamblett

Photo credits:  Benjamin Amure, Tracy Young Photography, Helena Dornellas 

Good afternoon!

Where to start?  Some amazing progress has been made over the last few weeks and it's really beginning to feel like things are moving ahead.

The big news is I finally managed to get my trustees together last Monday to open a bank account for the Abram Wilson Foundation for Creative Arts (its full name).  Woo!  Part of me couldn't quite believe it had taken so long, but I felt a bit better when I was assured by friends and colleagues who have set up charitable organisations in the UK that it is a very slow, painstaking process.  My experience has been no different.  We were all super happy, having spent an hour and a half in the bank, that the paperwork had finally been sent off.  All being well we should have an account next week. 

A few days later, one of my trustees accompanied me to none other than the U.S. Embassy for a screening of a new American series, Finding Your Roots (a bit like Who Do You Think You Are? in the UK).  The episode we saw focused on childhood friends Harry Connick Jr and Branford Marsalis, the eldest of the Marsalis clan.  It was an interesting programme, but the highlight for me was when they had an opportunity to talk about the roots they were laying down in their home town of New Orleans through The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music located in the Musicians Village of the Upper Ninth Ward.  It was fasinating to hear about it and the many benefits being experienced by the local commnunity, now that music is a staple in their life.

Branford attended the event and I had an opportunity to meet him at the end.  He knew Abram and once he realised who I was gave me a great big Marsalis hug.  Whenever I meet the musicians that inspired Abram, particularly those from New Orleans, I am always overwhelmed and moved by their immense generosity of spirit.  They share so many of the wonderful qualities that Abram had, and a special unbreakable bond like nothing I have encountered before. The musicians of New Orleans are truly a very special breed indeed.

And finally, the tour!  We have taken some steps forward and things are shaping up very nicely at the moment.  You'll see from the images above that we have a pretty good looking bunch of musicians who will be bringing all their talent, passion and flair to a venue near you later this year.  I'm very excited about it, as it will be a fantastic opportunity for Abram's rhythm section to play with two incredible saxophonists, Keith Loftis and Jean Toussaint.  Of course, as well as learning on the job (so to speak), they'll also have a chance to get to know Keith who was a great friend of Abram's whilst he was living in New York.

Et c'est tout!  More to follow in the coming weeks.  Thank you for your ongoing support and interest, you are awesome. 

Till soon!


Jennie x


Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349714 2013-01-30T09:00:39Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - TIME I MET THE BLUES

It's been a wee while since my last post.  I've spent January settling into the new year, finding my bearings and figuring out what to do next.  It turns out that 'next' is a lot, I currently have a to do list longer than the River Thames (plus a full-time job!).  This has been a bit overwhelming but I'm starting to figure out ways of slotting everything in.  

Progress is being made on all fronts.  I'm about half way through the process of setting up a charitable foundation.  It's been difficult getting my trustees in one place at the same time, as we're all pretty spread out and super busy, but we are definitely moving forwards.   

The Philippa Project is temporarily on hold as our fabulous director, Pia Furtado, directs a show for the Scottish National Opera (naturally).  We are still on the hunt for a composer to take Abram's work forwards, but we always knew this part was going to take a minute.  Finding a replacement for Abram was never going to be an easy task. 

The live recording which I want to release as a posthumous album exists as an MP3 but we're still trying to figure out if there is a master copy.  There was an assumption that there was one, but the person responsible for recording the gig has been a bit elusive of late.  Either way, we will find a way to make the recording accessible to everyone who made a donation.  It just might not be exactly how I imagined it and may take a little longer to sort out, but one way or another it will happen. 

Other projects include getting Abram's band back on the road.  We're planning to book a UK tour for late November/early December where they'll be joined by Abram's old friend and bandmate, New York based saxophonist Keith Loftis and Jean Toussaint, also on saxophone, who performed as part of the Abram Wilson Septet last year.  We're all massively excited and can't wait to get some gigs in the diary. 

If you want to see these guys blow you away at your local club later this year then please drop me an email. 

There are a gazillion other things going on, some awesome and fun, others less so. The most challenging part is doing all this without Abram.  We were a great team, and I really miss my team mate.  But then I remember why I'm doing this, and more importantly why I want to do it.  Abram challenged me and inspired me to do more, he had incredible vision and taught me that any idea, no matter how crazy it sounded, was possible.

With that in mind I'll leave you with a wonderful video of one of Abram's final education projects, Time I Met The Blues.  As the newly appointed Jazzlines Associate Artist of Birmingham Town Hall & Symphony Hall, he had been commissioned to write a 10 minute jazz piece, consisting of five notes, for 300 school children from the Ladywood area of Birmingham.  This video, posted by Town Hall & Symphony Hall, is them learning the piece for the first time in March last year, three months before Abram passed.  

One of Abram's big aims was to get the kids to improvise, a scary prospect when there's 300 of you.  But Abram's motto gave them confidence and encouraged them to go for it, "No fear!" he would call out, "No fear!" they'd respond.  Today it acts as a constant reminder of why I loved Abram and how he changed my life.  

No fear. 

Till soon!

Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349723 2013-01-09T14:01:12Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - BIRDS FLYING HIGH

Hello and Happy New Year!

As with the beginning of any new year, it's quite nice to have a clean out, sort through those desk drawers and tidy up that overflowing inbox. 

Unsubscribers - if you no longer wish to receive updates please drop me an email at management@abramwilson.com

The last few weeks have been a period of reflection for me.  As I've gradually joined the rest of the world in 2013, I've been thinking a lot about the future and where it's going to take me.  And with that come all the fears and worries about whether or not any of my hopes and dreams for the Abram Wilson Foundation are going to work out. 

Apparently, I'm not alone.  Which is a relief.  I figured there are probably a few of you out there who have made up their minds to do something different this year.  Often when it comes to taking the plunge you can find yourself standing on the edge for quite some time, looking down into what might seem like a bit of a black hole.  

Well, I've found something that reminded me why I needed to take the jump into the new year and I thought I'd share it with you.  It's a short film promoting a new book by 'marketing master', blogger and author, Seth Godin. The book is called The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

In it Godin asks, why shouldn't we fly really high?  He calls for us to think and act boldly, to go about our work as if it were art - with the idea of 'good enough' far from our minds. 

Today is seven months since Abram passed. I wanted to mark it with something that expressed genuine enthusiasm and encouragement for doing the thing you feel passionate about, because that was what Abram was all about. 

The Abram Wilson Foundation for Creative Arts will ensure that Abram's work and the impact he had on others is remembered and harnessed to give birth to a new generation of artists, continuing his legacy for years to come.  This year, I'm starting out with 'teeny, tiny steps' and with each one I'm getting a bit closer to my goal. 

Thank you for allowing me to connect with you and share my vision for my husband, Abram. 

Till soon!

Jennie x
Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349730 2012-12-20T23:41:11Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - FOR MY FAMILY

This is just a quick update to wish you all a lovely holiday and festive season.

2012 has not been an easy year. The very recent tragedy in Connecticut is yet another stark reminder that life is precious. We have no way of knowing what's going to happen in the future. So whether you're celebrating Christmas or not, I hope you are able to spend the last few days of this year remembering the good times and preparing for a new year where we try to make the most of it for as long as we can.

As the year closes I think about all the love and support I have experienced over the last few months and I feel pretty overwhelmed. There is no way I could have survived without it. It is love that binds us together and gets us through the difficult and painful times, and it is love that helps us find joy again. I found this quote the other day, and for those of you who don't read the Guardian, I thought I'd share it with you as I think it's rather beautiful.

Love is more easily experienced than defined. As a theological virtue, by which we love God above all things and our neighbours as ourselves for his sake, it seems remote until we encounter it enfleshed, so to say, in the life of another – in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Love's the one thing that can never hurt anyone, although it may cost dearly. The paradox of love is that it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than death. It cannot be bought or sold; there is nothing it cannot face; love is life's greatest blessing - Catherine Wybourne is a Benedictine nun.

I wanted to leave you with a tune Abram composed and recorded with his band last December before performing it with guest drummer and friend Jason Marsalis. It's called Wish and is part of a series of tunes for a new project called A New Orleans Style Christmas Story. Family was extremely important to Abram, he thought about them a lot whilst living in London and the project was inspired by them and their time growing up together in New Orleans. I hope you enjoy it.

Till soon!

Jennie x 

This post is dedicated to Abram's family and to Ana, the daughter of jazz saxophonist and educator Jimmy Greene, who on 14th December 2012 left this life for a better place. May her family find peace and light in the coming days and months.

Photo credit - Benjamin Amure

Trumpet and vocals - Abram Wilson 

Double bass - Alex Davies

Drums - Dave Hamblett

Piano - Reuben James

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349737 2012-12-07T14:06:04Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - A LOVE SUPREME

Photo credits: Benjamin Amure, Stephen Vakil, Abram Wilson and Jennie Cashman Wilson

This weekend will be six months since me and Abram were married, six months since he passed, and my birthday.  Last year Abram did the very clever thing of making me think he'd forgotten about my birthday, when actually it was the complete opposite.  In true Abram fashion he went all out to make it unforgettable and it is one of a host of memories I will treasure for many years to come.  

I'm dedicating this post to me and Abram.  I've included a selection of photos from our time together starting with a photoshoot from 24th March this year, then it jumps forward in time for a little bit before going back to 14th Feb (hence the roses).  The photoshoot was for the band but Abram wanted to take some shots of us at the end.  I've also included two poems below written by friends of ours for our wedding.  

I'm going to let the photos and poems do the talking, but before I go I want to leave you with a quote a friend sent me recently which inspired this post: 

'Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is but a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.'

Till soon. 


Jennie x

Song by Tara Siddall 

He plays for her, 
turns the curves
of the trumpet
in his hands.
Its open mouth
sings the songs
of his body, his lips
press out the air,
and the colours
wrap around her.
She breathes him in.

He touches her,
reads her skin
as it warms him.
He finds the love
she keeps here,
sees his heart
held in her own,
it's quiet beat.
She is another music.
When she kisses him
it is a song.


Poem by Seraphima Kennedy

I remember sitting with the two of you 

As the wedding singers clattered their plates 

And raised glass after glass to the ceiling.

I can see you both sitting in the warm spill of candlelight,

How the air around you seemed to hum.

I remember thinking,

This is what happiness looks like,

This is what love looks like. 


Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349741 2012-11-22T14:01:09Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - FEELING THANKFUL

Today is Thanksgiving.  In the spirit of Abram I woke up at the crack of dawn (he was an exceptionally early riser, much to my horror) and thought about all the things for which I’m thankful.  Abram and I had planned to be in the States this week, I was finally going to meet his family and we were going to have a very rare vacation together.  As it turned out there was a different plan and I suppose it would be very easy for me to not feel thankful at all.  It’s true that everything I thought was going to happen has been completely turned on its head; life could not be more different if it tried.  And yet, amidst the pain and the sadness there is a lot of joy and beauty as I continue to marvel at the life Abram has left me.

An example of this is the truly inspiring time I had during the London Jazz Festival.  Pia and I kicked off the week by going to see the legendary Terence Blanchard.  Another trumpeter and composer from New Orleans, he was part of the Branford Marsalis Quartet for the 1990 Spike Lee film, Mo' Better Blues.  It was one of Abram’s favourite movies, so much so that growing up his nickname was Bleek - the talented jazz trumpeter played by Denzel Washington.  It was a great way to start the Festival and true to his New Orleans roots, Mr Blanchard was warm, charming and funny.  It was mine and Pia’s last opportunity to catch up before she headed off into the world for three months, mentoring an up and coming director in Australia, visiting Singapore and Malaysia and opening an opera with the Scottish National Opera in January.  

Later in the week I took Reuben James and Alex Davis (Abram’s bandmates) to see the Marcus Roberts Trio.  Marcus is a truly exceptional jazz pianist. Affectionately dubbed ‘The J Master’ by Wynton Marsalis his knowledge and understanding of the music is second to none.  He was joined by his regular band members, our good friend Jason Marsalis on drums and Rodney ‘Swing’ Jordan on double bass.  It was a wonderful and moving evening for many reasons, not least because they were performing at Kings Place in exactly the same concert hall where Abram played with his quartet last December, with Jason Marsalis joining the band as a special guest.  It felt strange sitting in the audience with Alex and Reuben, watching Jason without Abram at our side.  Moreover, in March this year Marcus Roberts was performing at Ronnie Scott’s and invited Abram on stage in the second half.  Marcus was one of Abram’s heroes and he was deeply honoured to have the opportunity to play with him.  Seeing the Trio play together again was difficult and uplifting all at the same time.  Afterwards I had a chance to talk with Marcus and his lovely manager of 20 years, Lyn Moore.  We agreed I’d come earlier before their last gig on Saturday so I could explain a bit more about the Philippa Project and what Pia and I were looking for in terms of help and advice.

Saturday came along very quickly and I was still buzzing from seeing the incredible Sonny Rollins at the Barbican Centre the night before.  It really was like watching God play jazz!  The 82 year old maestro performed for two straight hours, demonstrating an energy and enthusiasm that most people half his age could only dream of.  On Saturday, Reuben and I met Marcus and the band after their afternoon gig and joined them for some food, which was a privilege in itself.  They were kind and generous and Marcus gave me his full attention whilst I told him about the Philippa Project and the type of composer we were looking for.  We chatted for a good hour before they had to be whisked off to their final Kings Place gig, which I attended with Reuben, Dave Hamblett (Abram’s drummer), my very good friend Tara and one of Abram’s students Frank Heather.  It was another amazing performance, this time with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Big Band.  At one point Marcus gave us a piano solo which I think I’ll remember for the rest of my life. 

After the gig we headed backstage where I was able to talk to Marcus a bit more about his ideas for possible composers.  We also spoke about Abram and how much Marcus had wanted him to be part of his London Jazz Festival residency.  Abram’s replacement was a young and gifted trumpeter called Etienne Charles, his performance was a credit to my husband and I very much enjoyed meeting him.  In the end Marcus, Jason, Rodney and Lyn joined us for drinks at their hotel.  It turned out to be an unforgettable night where we drank, laughed and talked till 2am. Whilst there we were briefly visited by some other jazz greats having just finished a gig at the Barbican – drummer Brian Blade, bassist Christian McBride and 16-time Grammy winner, pianist Chick Corea.  They were preparing to leave for Paris but such is the love and respect they all have for Marcus they couldn’t not take some time to say hello.  

At some point during the evening Rodney turned to me and said “you know you’ve joined a big family, don’t you?”.  And he’s right.  The warmth of spirit that was present that night was very comforting because it reminded me so much of Abram; we were surrounded by genuine, talented, beautiful and inspiring people.  I thought about Abram and how much he would have enjoyed being there, he would have joked, reminisced and asked a thousand questions.  Meeting Abram, loving him and working with him was a gift that will stay with me forever.  It has opened the door into a life that I didn’t even know existed, allowing me to appreciate the music of jazz and the company of some extraordinary people.   

Today is Thanksgiving.  And I am thankful for all that Abram gave me and continues to give me.  I’m thankful for Team J-Bram, for Reuben, Alex and Dave, for Pia, for Abram’s family and for my family.  I’m thankful for all the musicians, from the ones just starting out to the ones who’ve been playing for decades, who had the chance to meet Abram and appreciate his music and vision.  I’m thankful for the new trustees of the Abram Wilson Foundation and for those friends who remained close to Abram and were there when he needed them.  And of course, I’m thankful for you and all the support you’ve shown me over the last few months.  It’s been tough, but there is much to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving.



Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349747 2012-11-06T23:39:00Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - PERFORMANCE AND POLITICS



A friend (and fan) of Abram once said to me, “if he wasn’t such a talented musician he’d have made one hell of a politician”.  Perhaps he was right, Abram was charismatic, inspiring, and always charming to those he met.  He was eloquent and passionate about what he believed in.  With those good looks and killer smile you were putty in his hands, ready to believe anything.  If Abram could convince people to vote for him as much as he could convince them to love jazz, then yes, he might have made a very good politician indeed. But I’m thankful I can say that ultimately it would never have worked out.  He was far too honest and sensitive to make it in the world of politics.  He cared far too much about what he did; he wasn’t interested in playing games, or wasting his time trying to bring the other ‘team’ down.  Like Abram always said, “I just wanna play, man!”.

On the day of the U.S presidential election, as the world watches, waiting in anticipation to see who America chooses as their next president, I can’t help but think about the performances involved for both candidates.  It got me thinking about Abram, and how much he loved to perform.  The presidential candidates are acting their socks off right now, frantically trying to win those key states that will inevitably mean the difference between winning and losing. It is a real life drama being played out before a global audience, and it’s difficult not to get caught up in it.  

Abram wasn’t much of a fan of real life drama, his interest in performance remained rooted in his art and stayed firmly on stage.  It was a place where his love for stories shone through and soon became a trade-mark of the jazz man from New Orleans.  He had the fortune to pursue his passion in many forms, which included working with a couple of wonderful theatre directors; David Lan (Artistic Director at London’s The Young Vic) who directed Abram in In the Red and Brown Water and Tim Supple who directed him in Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the Curve in Leicester.  Abram got a real kick out of being in those two shows, he even kept the script for the former and the programme for the latter (and Abram was not a keeper of things).  I’ve included some pictures here, the one where Abram has the big beard is his Shakespearean look.

For those of you that don’t know much about this side of Abram’s career, I've included a video of Abram singing the Legba Song, one of the tunes from In the Red and Brown Water.   It was later remixed by Neel D’Wala (or Papa D as Abram would call him).  The run finished four years ago this Thursday, 8th November, which also happens to be our five month wedding anniversary.  Abram was the musical director and a key performer in the production.  You can read a lovely review of the show in the Guardian by John Fordham here:


After these two experiences Abram was determined to do more acting, which is where the Philippa Project came in.  After writing the music inspired by Philippa Schuyler’s life, Abram knew he wanted to take the project further and develop a jazz-theatre piece with director Pia Furtado.  I know that if Abram were here with me, we’d be gripped to the coverage of the election, planning to stay up all night, rooting for the man we wanted to become president.  Abram was so excited about the 2012 election and kept saying to me “I gotta register to vote man.  I gotta register”.   In the end he ran out of time, and tonight, instead of staying up for the results I’m going to pack myself off to bed.  Tomorrow, as Europe wakes up to a new president, Pia and and I will be meeting with Arts Council England to talk about funding for the next stage of the Philippa Project.  I can’t vote for Abram, but with your help, I can finish what we started.   

Till soon!


Jennie x

Photo credit for black and white image: Tom Mallow

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349751 2012-10-23T15:53:01Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - WHAT DO YOU DESIRE?


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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349759 2012-10-09T11:56:17Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - JAZZ IS PASSION AND EMOTION, JAZZ IS LOVE



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 


Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349770 2012-09-28T09:38:24Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - TWO ENGLISH LADIES IN NEW YORK




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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349772 2012-09-13T12:11:00Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - JAZZ PRINCE


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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349779 2012-09-07T09:53:00Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - A NEW DAWN

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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349786 2012-08-29T10:12:34Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z $21,338 RAISED FOR THE ABRAM WILSON FOUNDATION!

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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349793 2012-08-23T14:44:20Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - 50 HOURS TO GO!


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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349804 2012-08-20T11:43:05Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - JAZZ PROFILE ON RADIO CARDIFF


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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349809 2012-08-16T16:38:26Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON - DOES IT SWING?

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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349813 2012-08-08T11:36:46Z 2013-10-08T16:36:35Z ABRAM WILSON - OLYMPIC JAZZ MUSICIANS

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

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349697 2012-08-01T13:50:19Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - MEMORIES OF A WONDERFUL MAN

I can't believe it's been a week since Abram's memorial service, people are still getting in touch to tell me how moved they were by the whole day and how honoured they felt to be part of it.  It really was a magical occasion.


And we have raised $14,645 for the Abram Wilson Foundation!  You can donate by clicking HERE.


One of the best parts about the whole afternoon was that everyone was genuinely celebrating.  We were dancing, smiling, laughing and singing even though we had lost someone we loved and cared for deeply.  That to me was truly special.  Last Wednesday reminded many of us about the importance of life and love.

Here are a few more images including the moment when Wynton Marsalis and his band members arrived and the jam session later that night at Ronnie Scott's, which was dedicated to Abram.  I've also added some short videos from the day.

Finally, I wanted to share some memories and thoughts about Abram that people offered up on the day.  They are wonderful, so please take a minute, put the kettle on and enjoy.

Till soon!


Jennie x

I remember the first time I met Abram - it was the first time he met my brother - he felt my brother set the piano on fire - I remember thinking it's the first time I'd heard the trumpet sing.  Such melody, such beauty. I didn't know Abram long but he felt and still feels like family. Listening to the 'quartet' play today I heard Abram sing.  It was wonderful.  Thank you for sharing his life, love and gift.

The big love that was felt today was granted by you.

Man Abram, you can play the blues!  So soulful in every meaning of the word.  I will never forget the great times we shared. Swing on.

Abram is definitely one of the most inspiring people I have ever met - he taught me to play the blues aged 8, something which has stayed with me ever since.  I will remember him and what he taught me for the rest of my life.

Abram Wilson - a truly inspirational man.  I'll always remember the first workshop I did with him...the blues - singing with him...True feeling.

Abram was my mentor, the person who gave me confidence, the person who inpired me, the person I looked up to...He was like a brother.

 Abram could play.

A truly inpirational human being!  Will never forget our time listening, talking about and playing jazz.  This time was inspiring and will stay with me forever.

Abram was always inspiring to jazz musicians including myself.  He was always enthusiastic!!  Always dancing, and shaking that ass!!  I will always remember the amazing tone of his trumpet!!  But there is one thing I will ALWAYS remember, forever, "5-1...3-1...7-1".

The first time I met Abram he called me 'sir', I loved him then.

Dude gave me a whole lesson on stage presence/performance.  That's Abram.  Yet there was a lot more depth to the man.  I experienced this through your music but I can only imagine the blessings people would have received by knowing you.

So long Abram, personal trainer, confidence booster, style guru, food hoover! smiler - All round lovely guy.  And not a bad musician either!  We all miss you very much.

Abram, you are amazing.  Amazing, amazing, amazing,  Today was testament to just how amazing you are. Your spirit and music live on and I am so happy to have known you and shared so many happy times with you : ) We will miss you but we'll be together again some day.  I know it!

Knew Abram as the love of Jennie's life.

Abram, you were one in a million, never knew a man so dedicated to his music and the teaching of others...Gone but not forgotten, Abram will always be a part of our life.

He was like my big brother.  I'll miss you so much Abram.

Will always remember your smile, always happy.

"I may no be a King of Jazz - yet.  But I'm definitely a prince" - Abram Wilson, March 2012

I remember...his quiet way of holding a room - I remember time, the time he had for others who wanted to learn about what he did, how he made THAT music.  I remember him smiling, Jennie smiling - the two of them together.  I take that forward.

The most beautiful and talented man I've ever had the pleasure to cross paths with.  You'll be missed.

Abram, it's your sweetness and lack of pretension I will always treasure, to have those qualities and such talent is remarkable. With love always.

I liked the way you were.  I adored the sound of your mellow, smiling voice. And you did fine things for my friend Jennie.

Such an amazing man. He will always be in our hearts.  He has touched many lives.  Abram inspired me.

Abram, full of love, full of life, full of JAZZ.  My brother you will be missed but not forgotten.  Thank you.

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349702 2012-07-26T16:39:11Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - SECOND LINE PARADE PICTURES

Yesterday was a fitting tribute to the life of the much loved and inspirational jazz musician, composer and educator Abram Wilson.

It was a day full of smiles, laughter and fond memories which reflected the many different aspects of Abram's life.  We brought a bit of New Orleans to London with a beautiful and uplifiting procession led by Kevin Robinson and Karen Gibson involving the Maria Fidelis Choir and many of the musicians with whom Abram worked during the ten years he resided in the UK.

Wynton Marsalis and some of his band members from Jazz at Lincoln Center turned up at the last minute and helped to ensure that the day was firmly rooted in the traditions of Abram's hometown.

Thank you to Team J-Bram for helping with all the behind the scenes bits including donning those rather fetching hi-viz jackets on the day, John Langley and the team at the National Theatre for being amazing and enabling the procession to cut right across the South Bank, the lovely police officers who stopped traffic for us, Abram's sister Hannah, Pia Furtado and Anthony Welsh for their moving readings, and the musicians and the choir for all their hard work leading up to the big day.

A very special thank you goes to Kevin Robison and Karen Gibson who despite their hectic schedules pulled out all the stops to make the day truly memorable.  Thank you to Abram's band members, Alex Davis on double bass, Dave Hamblett on drums and Reuben James on piano for being there and playing Abram's music, we could hear him singing and playing his horn with you.

And finally, a BIG thank you to everyone who attended and ensured we celebrated Abram's life in style.

You are all awesome and I couldn't have done it without you.

We have nearly raised $14,000 and still have a month to go before the online campaign for the Abram Wilson Foundation finishes.  Please donate by clicking HERE.

There's also a great video posted by Mr Marsalis' team of them playing in the second line parade (protected by our fab 'WHO DAT!' umbrellas!):


Till soon!


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349705 2012-07-24T15:32:09Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - MEMORIAL SERVICE MEETING POINT


We have had some more donations over the last few days meaning we're oh so very close to hitting $13,000!  Thank you all so much.

To make a donation please follow the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/abramwilson/philippa-the-abram-wilson-foundation

As you know Abram's memorial service is tomorrow, so I popped down to the National Theatre this morning to film a little video of the meeting point which I've included here.

It looks like it's going to be very hot, so some second line umbrellas and handkerchiefs will come in useful after all!  Don't forget to bring some water as well : )

I'm looking forward to seeing those of you who can make it and together I hope we can celebrate Abram's life in a way that would make him proud.

Till soon!


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349708 2012-07-20T11:24:36Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - SECOND LINE UMBRELLAS AND 'WHO DAT!'

Just a quick update today.  The Abram Wilson Foundation has received nearly $12,600 which means we managed to raise an additional $500 in just one week - amazing!  Thanks to everyone who has pledged over the last few days. 

To make a donation just follow the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/abramwilson/philippa-the-abram-wilson-foundation

I wanted to share some more of the preparations that have been going on behind the scenes for Abram's memorial service next Wednesday. 

A couple of nights ago some members of Team J-Bram (a name coined thanks to the tireless support they have given me, Abram and our families over the last couple of months) got together to decorate some second line umbrellas for the procession part of the memorial.  

A traditional New Orleans procession is typically made up of the first line, which includes the band and family members, followed by the second line which is everyone else.  In order to be true to the second line we need brightly decorated umbrellas and handkerchiefs with which to dance to the music, this is called 'second lining'. 

I've included a short video and some pictures showing the decorating in full swing and explaining the New Orleans phrase 'Who Dat!'.  

If you feel inspired to decorate you're own umbrella that would be fantastic, but if not just bring a handkerchief to wave instead. 

Till soon!


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349712 2012-07-18T13:28:39Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON - MEMORIAL SERVICE

Well, the Foundation has surpassed $12,000 this week thanks to your incredible support!  

Thank you so much. 

If you've yet to donate please follow the link:


I thought I'd use my next update as an opportunity to remind you about Abram's memorial service which is happening a week today, on Wednesday 25th July. 

The service is open to all so if you are able to attend please come down and join us. 

The details are as follows:

1:30pm - Meet on the South Bank in front of the National Theatre in their square closest to the IBM building (if you find yourself watching the end of a juggling act you are in the wrong square)

1:30pm - 2pm - Procession towards St John's Church, Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8TY 

2pm - Arrive at church and take seats

Dress code: Smart and colourful 

We had a rehearsal yesterday with the band made up of the wonderful Kevin Robinson, Frank Heather, Jean Toussaint, Binker Golding, Jason Yarde, Tyrone Issac-Stuarts, Winston Rollins, Trevor Mires, Nathaniel Cross, Theon Cross, Andy Grappy, Pedro Segundo, Dave Hamblett, Alex Davis, Errol Linton and Reuben James.  And we were joined by the fabulous Maria Fidelis Choir led by Karen Gibson. 

It was a pretty emotional day for all of us but we're very excited about putting on a fantastic show for Abram.  I think he would be really proud of everyone involved for the huge effort they have made in helping me put the service together. 

A big thank you to them, the Southbank Centre and the National Theatre for being such rocks. 

I've included a little clip of the band and choir going over the tune Down By The Riverside for the first time. 

I hope it gets you in the mood for a serious New Orleans celebration of Abram's life next week.

Keep spreading the word about the Foundation, 38 days to go!

Till soon!


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349719 2012-07-14T09:36:29Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON FOUNDATION - THE JAZZ EDUCATOR

Another day awaits, another story to share about Abram and a few more donations to add to the pot. We have raised a total of $11,399 thanks to some very generous supporters this week, I know Abram would be deeply touched so thank you to everyone who has pledged so far.  If you still haven't had a chance to donate you can do so by clicking HERE

Today I wanted to highlight Abram’s passion for music education which I hope will be a big part of the Foundation’s work in the future.

This is a video from a workshop Abram did on 23rd May at Truro College whilst we were on tour in Devon and Cornwall. It was a couple of days before Abram went into hospital and no one would have known how bad he was feeling that day. It amazes me to watch it and see his light still shining through as he talks about forging a career in the jazz world, sings Bye Bye Blackbird and jams with some of the students.

Abram loved jazz music more than anything, and he LOVED swing. His first instrument was the drums and when he talked about swing he'd start imitating playing a kit with his right hand, his eyes would light up and he'd say (smiling big) "there's something about swing...it just makes you feel so gooood!". He believed that if children and young people could learn about it and how to play it then the rest would be easy, they couldn't fail to love it.

It’s about nine minutes, so please go and get a cup of tea, or a coffee if you’re not feeling very English, and soak up the wonderfulness that continues to be Abram Wilson.

Thank you again for believing in Abram and the Foundation. Please let your friends and family know about the incredible job we’re all doing.

Till soon!

Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349725 2012-07-10T12:22:06Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON FOUNDATION - THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE INSPIRATION

The Kickstarter campaign is doing really well with pledges still coming in, we've raised $8,614 to date and still have many days left to go before the page closes.  So keep spreading the word and thank you for your support!


I've been doing a bit of thinking about what to share with you next, and I thought I'd give you an insight into the inspiration behind Abram and his work.  Abram was one of the most generous, talented, hard working artists I'd ever met.  He lived for his music, and his whole life would pour out of that trumpet every time he picked it up. 

One of the things he used to talk about in terms of what turned him onto jazz was the Wynton Marsalis Septet.  He'd recall the first time he saw them play in New Orleans when he was about 16 years old, and how impressed he was by these tall, proud, eloquent black men playing this incredible music.  That was the moment Abram decided to focus on jazz music. 

Here's a great clip of them playing Happy Birthday to pianist Marcus Roberts.



About 20 years later Abram formed a septet that would prove to be one of his best bands yet, the Abram Wilson 'Olympic' Septet.  It included his regular rhythm section, Alex Davis on bass, Dave Hamblett on drums and Reuben James on piano but with the added bonus of Peter King on alto sax, Jean Toussaint on tenor sax and Winston Rollins/Trevor Mires on trombone.  The band had a string of dates booked this summer and had already performed three before Abram was admitted into hospital in late May.

The septet music, 'Running With The Flame', was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics.  Abram had come up with this idea to arrange traditional folk songs from around the world in a jazz style.  It sounded completely insane when he told me about it, but Abram had an incredible ability to hear things most people couldn't even dream of, he'd say "trust me Jennie, it's gonna sound goooood" and break out into a huge grin, because when he talked about the music he loved that's all he could ever do - smile big!

So this is a video from a gig on 4th May 2012 at Bedales Arts, near Petersfield in England.  This is the final tune of the night, the encore to be precise, where the band played a folk song from Abram's homeland, New Orleans.  It's called L'il Liza James.



Don't forget to donate - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/abramwilson/philippa-the-abram-wilson-foundation


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349732 2012-07-06T15:41:30Z 2013-10-08T16:36:33Z ABRAM WILSON FOUNDATION - PHILIPPA OUTAKES

Hello and Happy Friday!

I hope you've all got some lovely plans for the weekend.  I'm just going to make this a short one today and instead hand the 'mic' over to the band.

I've included four outakes from not too long ago, they were filmed on Tuesday 22nd May in Devon before we headed off to St Ives for the second gig of Abram's final tour.

We were getting a recording together for the Kickstarter video which we were planning to launch once we returned to London.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the 'behind the scenes' bits, I hope you enjoy them.

We've surpassed $8,260 on the Abram Wilson Foundation Kickstarter page. A big thank you very much to those of you have pledged recently!  We've still got 50 days to go so please keep spreading the word.

Here's the link if you still haven't got round to making a donation:


Till soon!


Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349738 2012-07-03T15:18:00Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z ABRAM WILSON FOUNDATION - TIME TO DREAM BIG!

photo: Jennie & Abram

photo © Benjamin Amure 2012

It was only a week ago today we launched Abram's Kickstarter page and we have just hit our initial $7000 target! How awesome is that? You are the reason that this has happened and I can't thank you enough for your support, Abram would be seriously amazed too. 


But why stop there? If there is one thing Abram taught me to do it was to dream big. He would probably say "Jennie, imagine if we raised $100,000, wouldn't that be cool?". And I would have to say, "Abram, we're not going to raise $100,000". He'd say, "Come on, imagine if we did. What would we do?".

And I'd look at him very sceptically and say "Well, we would definitely be able to finish the Philippa project, we could see the theatrical production we started earlier this year right through to the end without having to worry about raising any more funds from elsewhere. It would also mean we could endow your Foundation and get going on all the other projects we want to do". Abram would turn and give me one of his big beautiful smiles and say "Wow. That. Would. Be. Cool".

Well, anything is possible and whilst it wasn't our initial goal to raise $100,000 for the Foundation using Kickstarter, there's no reason why we can't aim for it. Once the Kickstarter campaign ends on 25th August we will still continue to fundraise in order to establish the Foundation properly, so the more pledges we receive now the more we can do later.

Before I go, I wanted to offer you a poem that I shared with Abram a few years ago. We were just starting out on our journey together, and this poem reminded me of Abram and all he hoped to achieve in life.


Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


W.B Yeats (1899)


You are part of realising Abram's dreams, thank you so much. Please let your friends and family know that this is just the beginning.

To watch the video and find out more about making a donation follow the link: 



Till soon!

Love, Jennie x

Abram Wilson Foundation
tag:abramwilson.posthaven.com,2013:Post/349745 2012-06-29T18:46:00Z 2013-10-08T16:36:34Z AN INCREDIBLE START TO THE ABRAM WILSON FOUNDATION!

Firstly, a massive THANK YOU to those who have made a donation towards The Abram Wilson Foundation, we have already surpassed $4,500 since we launched the Kickstarter page on Tuesday which is amazing.

It means so much that you have chosen to be part of Abram's legacy and I know he would be very proud of what we're trying to achieve together. 
Three weeks ago today Abram and I got married. It was something we'd always talked about but we had been waiting for the right time. The 8th June 2012 seemed like as good a time as any. Our wedding day was a true testament to Abram's strength, his courage and his love, not just for me but for his family and friends as well. 

Abram may no longer be with us physically, but his spirit remains part of all of us. I miss him every day, but he left me with some incredible gifts, he taught be to be brave and to stay positive even when things are hard. I imagine what Abram might say to me when I'm finding things tough, I think he'd say "I'm cool, man. Don't you worry about me, I'm cool. And don't be sad, we still have so much to do".

Abram lived his life like no one I've ever met before, or ever will, he didn't want to waste a second. He knew from the moment he picked up his first trumpet, aged eight years old, what his purpose in life was and he was determined to follow that path. 

It is because of Abram's passion and his dedication to music, jazz in particular, that me and his family wanted to establish a foundation in his memory. If Abram were with me right now, I know he would be beyond exited at the amount of support everyone has shown.

The more donations we receive, the more we will be able to keep Abram's work and memory alive.

So thank you again and please spread the word far and wide about Abram and his foundation. 
Till soon!
Jennie x
Abram Wilson Foundation