The Dave Wilson Quartet rocks EU’s Cole Auditorium

By Maddie Wickett
Contributing Writer/Spectator

A cold winter night is the perfect time to enjoy the mellow, polished and sensual tones of the saxophone. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania’s Performing Arts Series presented The Dave Wilson Quartet on Friday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis C. Cole Memorial Auditorium.

According to the Dave Wilson Quartet website, the group has performed at many large jazz festivals, clubs and cafés all over the East Coast and in states including Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and even as far as Florida. The saxophonist has been part of many different jazz groups throughout the years, including the Canal Street Hot 6, and has released six albums since he was signed to a record label in 2002. Wilson himself was raised in Bronxville, New York and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Most of the group’s current performances are at jazz clubs and liberal arts universities in Eastern Pennsylvania, with Edinboro University being the exception.

“I was in fourth grade and we were picking out band instruments at school and I picked the clarinet. I started playing the sax when I was about 15 or 16,” Wilson said. “As a teenager, I just really wanted to improvise.”

Today he still improvises with his quartet, performing a selection of pop tunes mixed in with original compositions. According to Wilson, some of his favorite pieces are “Days of Wine and Roses,” by saxophonist Henry Mancini, and an original piece titled “Ocean Blue.” The quartet played both of his favorite pieces at the Edinboro University concert along with covers from The Beatles, Grateful Dead, Ambrosia and even Creed, along with several original compositions.

“I am interested in communicating with the audience,” Wilson said. “Our love for our music, our sincerity, we make a personal statement with the music… and we try and have some variety while still maintaining our own integrity.”

According to Wilson, the music comes from the heart; it’s creative and largely improvisational. Improvisation is very common in jazz music and can be seen in the quartet by their long original pieces, saxophone solos and drum solos. The title track of their 2011 album, “Spiral,” clocks in at six minutes and 39 seconds.

Shaun Taylor, an assistant professor at the university and head of the Edinboro University Office of the Performing Arts, booked the Dave Wilson Quartet as well as many other musical acts as part of the campus’ performing arts series. The series is sponsored by the university and the Edinboro University Student Government Association. It consists of a yearly schedule of live musical and artistic events that spotlight the arts at Edinboro University.

“A friend of mine had mentioned (The Dave Wilson Quartet),” said Taylor. “I did a little bit of looking around to see what they sounded like and if I thought it was something that Edinboro students would be interested in.”

According to Taylor, events like the Dave Wilson Quartet are hard to sell to students, but he hopes that different types of events will appeal to various groups of the student body. Taylor said there’s a billboard in Erie and some press by way of The Erie Times News for the event, along with posters in the Edinboro community and campus. Mark Wickenheiser, a member of the audience at the quartet’s performance said that his favorite piece during the performance was “Summertime,” a six-minute original composition from the quartet’s 2006 album, “My Time.” “It showed me what a quartet could do,” said Wickenheiser. “I was very impressed.”

Maddie Wickett is a contributing writer for the Spectator. She can be reached by