Don Wilner

Press & Testimonials

Don Wilner- bassist, performs in both the classical and jazz genres. He earned a Doctorate in Music and taught at the University of Miami, was the Principal Bassist and a featured soloist with the Palm Beach Pops, and the Assistant Principal Bassist with the Miami City Ballet for many years.

Don can be heard on his CD's- Estrada Do Sol (with Duduka Da Fonseca, Harry Allen, Mike Orta, Sammy Figueroa), Figments Of My Imagination (with Eric Alexander, Kenny Drew, Jr., Mike Orta) , Mysterious Beauty (with Mike Renzi, Grady Tate), Eddie Higgins’ Picture in Black & White, Annette Sanders collaboration with Mike Renzi, Everything I Love, as well as on many other recordings.

He is the author of several articles on jazz bass, including "Interactive Jazz Improvisation in the Bill Evan’s Trio."

Don was named "Best Jazz Musician" in Miami New Times Magazine Best of Miami Issue.

An outstanding accompanist and soloist, he has performed and recorded with George Coleman, Maureen McGovern, Mark Murphy, Carmen McRae, James Moody, Ceder Walton, Tom Harrell, Fred Hersch, Toots Theilmans, Hubert Laws, Eddie Harris, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley, Peter Nero, Harry Allen, Scott Hamilton, John Abercrombie, Adam Nussbaum, Michell LeGrand, Marion McPartland, and many others.

Named Best Jazz Musician in Miami New Times Magazine Best of Miami Issue 2000. Dr. Wilner originated, promoted, and sustained the jazz music program at the Van Dyke for 13 years (until it was sold in 2007), which New Times labeled Best Jazz Club in Miami numerous times.

"Wilner is one of the rare symphony musicians capable of first-rate jazz. His solos and interchanges . . . are lovely, and his upper-range arco playing has the vocal-like quality of a ‘cello. Much of the program (with Higgins) has a Blanton-Ellington feel, rather than the usual ‘piano with rhythm’." critic Art Hilgart.

Doug Ramsey, the well-known music critic for Jazz Times Magazine, wrote "Wilner is an astonishing bass player whether bowing, walking, interacting . . . or covering the instrument from top to bottom in his pizzicato solos. His purity of tone and breadth of technique may come from his classical background. They are matched by a time feeling achieved only by musicians with a bone-deep jazz sensibility."

Don Wilner in the Media

Best Jazz Artist
Don Wilner

Published on May 13, 1999

Classically trained on the bass, Don Wilner may seem like a musical nerd. He holds a doctorate in music from the University of Miami (where he taught for many years) and he has published numerous articles about jazz performance and pedagogy. But when he plays in the Van Dyke Café's upstairs bar, he reveals himself to be the heppest of hepcats, a jazz man through and through. As the Van Dyke's musical coordinator, he keeps the room humming seven days a week. As in-house bassist he's there more often than not, playing along with some of the hottest names in the jazz world: Mose Allison, Mark Murphy, Johnny O'Neal, and Grady Tate to name a few. Whether accompanying greats, performing with the members of his own hard-bop ensemble (currently fielding offers from major record labels), or letting loose on a solo during a performance by his trio (James Martin and Mark Marineau), Wilner swings, sways, grooves, takes it seriously, takes it fun, grimaces, smiles, sweats, and gives the impression he's loving every minute of it. His recently released album, the eclectic Mysterious Beauty, features jazzy takes on classical tunes (themes from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen), standards (Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" and Harold Arlen's "Ill Wind"), and bebop classics (Charlie Parker's "Dexterity") and recently earned a rave review from the esteemed Jazz Times magazine.

Best House Band
The Don Wilner Quintet

Published on May 17, 2001

To hear these guys smoke through a number on Tuesday nights is to infuse your life with a sudden dash of Fifties cool. You'll walk away feeling sharper. You'll want to crease your trousers and wear shades inside. Eddie Higgins's fingers float over the keyboard like darting minnows in a tide pool. Gilly DiBenedetto summons mesmerizingly fluid tones from his sax. And Wilner sets the foundation for it all with his upright bass. Half an hour or so into the set, Tony Fernandez's gilded pipes warble Frank Sinatra tunes with such effortless grace, you'd think you had just stepped off the set of Ocean's Eleven. Master violinist Federico Britos ignites his strings. Depending on the night Lenny Steinberg or James Martin will be tapping the drums. Put a boutonniere in your lapel, snap your fingers, and order a martini. One word to the wise: Higgins, who has recorded with the likes of Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie, spends his summers on Cape Cod. But fret not: He returns in the fall.

“Bassist Don Wilner alone is worth a trip to Miami Beach.”
(Posted on Yahoo Travel Guide- The Van Dyke Café)


Don Wilner is committed to helping his students achieve their goals by providing lessons tailored to their individual needs and abilities. Read Don’s reviews and testimonials below, or share an experience of your own. Your feedback is appreciated!
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Yudelka P. Zapata said:   January 12, 2017 8:49 am PST
Recently I had the honor of becoming Dr. Wilner's first violin student. Not only is he a great player, but a great instructor as well. Even though he doesn't play the violin, he thought me things about the instrument I would've never learned on my own. From techniques of playing to new tricks of how to fix intonation problems. It was like meeting the violin all over again!Experienced or not, there will always be a lot to learn from this great professor. Thank you Dr. Wilner!

Christopher said:   May 30, 2016 5:14 am PST
Very passionate and knowledgeable teacher ! Students who are open minded and willing to put in the work will develop a greater understanding of Jazz . My musical knowledge and applications improved greatly after only 1 semester in his class.Be sure to catch him performing live around Miami!

mark gridley said:   March 10, 2016 1:59 pm PST
For many years I have been reviewing course syllabi and class designs for jazz history and appreciation courses. Recently I had the opportunity to review the MUL 2380 course devised by Dr. Don Wilner. It is the most impressive design and comprehensive preparation for students that I have yet to review. Congratulations are due to Professor Wilner for such attention to detail and sensitivity to the needs of novice jazz listeners.

your student at Miami Dade College said:   May 22, 2014 10:57 am PST
Absolutely a great teacher. He is very passionate about his subject and even played his cello for us as one of the concerts we need to attend to. If you want to slack, then he's not your guy. But he is really great when you are motivated to learn and study. Took him two years ago and still my favorite till this day.

your student at Miami Dade College said:   May 22, 2014 10:56 am PST
Great teacher. More than willing to work with his "real" students. Very kool how passionate Dr. Wilner is towards the art od jazz. Excellent musician!

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