Chicago native Anthony Wonsey is one of the most innovative jazz pianists on the planet. Anthony’s introduction to music began at a young age via the influence of his mother Darlene, a classically trained pianist, lessons from trumpeter Zilner Randolph, musical director for Louis Armstrong’s band, and many moments in his family’s basement with his father Anthony, a Chicago postal worker/jazz fan who schooled his son, via a staticky AM radio, on the music he loved.
His progression flourished, resulting in a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. While a student, he played locally with Roy Hargrove and Antonio Hart; toured with Kenny Garrett and Nneena Freelon, followed by a staggering move when recruited by the legendary drummer Elvin Jones to join his group. Wonsey relocated from Boston to NYC and played with Jones’ Jazz Machine for five years. Mulgrew Miller and James Williams also became mentors.
His first album as a leader was Anthonyolgy, followed by Blues for Hiroshi, and The Thang. He played solo concerts in Argentina and Italy. His unique sound generated sessions and live dates. Over the years he’s played with Jeremy Pelt, Charles Tolliver, Louis Hayes, Clark Terry, Russell Malone, Donald Harrison, Carmen Lundy, and Phil Woods.
The pandemic hit musicians as hard as anyone. Clubs were closed, touring was restricted, playing with others was limited. Anthony Wonsey didn’t do recluse. He assembled a session for a recording date that resulted in his newest album: Lorraine’s Lullaby. Produced by Jeremy Pelt, the album, released in early November, is a meditative but swinging collection of inspired originals and deftly arranged standards.