Smooth jazz sounds flow from Connor Wilson’s bass trombone effortlessly like a pro with more than just two years experience under his belt.
The humble musician took first chair bass trombone at the Texas Music Educators Association’s All-State competition this fall – earning a top spot on the state’s Jazz Ensemble 1 and making him the top student bass trombonist in Texas.
“I’m really proud of myself,” he said, his bass trombone comfortably at his side. “I got fourth chair last year and I was on the second ensemble, so I think it was really cool to get in the top ensemble this year.”
Coronado band director Mark Saenz calls Wilson’s accomplishment “a big deal.”
“It shows a lot of discipline to try to get those eight tubes to the level that they need to be and a lot of creativity,” Saenz said. “He had to create an improvised solo for this particularly audition process. It shows the skills that he’s developed and his talent.”
The junior credits his Coronado band peers for pushing him to practice and hone his craft.
“Being around all these other players that are so talented has made me a better player,” Wilson said. “I think had I not gone here, I wouldn’t be in a position that I am today.”
Wilson’s talent and accomplishments also inspire his band mates.
“When you have a student like Connor with the right mix of talent and attitude, it really impacts the other students around here,” Saenz said. “They hear how well he’s playing and it makes them better and inspires them to practice and make themselves work on improving their skills.”
Wilson began his band career in sixth grade playing the tuba, then moved on to trombone in seventh grade. He turned to bass trombone as a Coronado freshman – further developing and fueling his passion for jazz.
“I like the way that you can kind of just make your own melodies off of a melody that someone else created 30 years earlier,” he said. “I just think it’s really cool.”
Wilson also enjoys the mood-lifting effect playing the trombone gives him.
“It’s a real stress reliever,” he said. “If I’m sad or something, I’ll play my trombone and feel better. I really enjoy just making music – especially when it sounds really good. It’s a kind of a sense of accomplishment.”
His passion and love for brass instruments might be directly related to his genes. His parents, Steve and Elisa Wilson, are both UTEP fine arts professors. Dad Steve is an accomplished trombonist, while mom Elisa is a professor of choral music and voice.
“Connor has a particular strong family music background,” Saenz said. “They’re supported him from day one. They’ve given him the room to grow and have supported him in whatever direction that it takes him.”
His pure talent, dedication and a little DNA give the trombonist the elements necessary for success at the state level and among his peers.
“Connor is just such a great player as far as the jazz element is concerned. But on top of that, he’s also a wonderful classical tubist,” Saenz said. “He’s just a wonderful student and an inspiration for the kids around here.”