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
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. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/1999-05-13/music/best-jazz-artist/
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. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2001-05-17/music/best-house-band/
“Bassist Don Wilner alone is worth a trip to
(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!
This is Stan Musick and the other night on the radio I heard a wonderful recording of you and Mike Renzi.
I had no idea that you had become such an accomplished musician.
I remember in the early 80's you came and sat in with a duo I was working with at Grove isle and at that point I had the
feeling that this young man had the determination and willingness to progress...and you sure have.
I'm 84 now but in great health and I would like you to let me know when you are appearing so I can catch
you in person.
Danny Lopatka said:October 28, 2013 5:34 am PST
My name is Danny Lopatka and i'm a bass performance major at the University of Illinois @ Chicago. You don't know me, but probably about a year ago, my parents were on a trip in Miami and they heard you play. When they came back, my mom gave me your CD "Figments of my Imagination" and said i should check you out. Unfortunately, i didn't get around to listening to it in its entirety until a few months ago, BUT let me tell you, i think it's an absolutely
wonderful record. Your playing reminds me a lot of Chicago's Larry Gray, and he's one of my heros. If i'm ever down your way, or your up mine, i'd love to take a lesson.
Thanks for creating
Andrew Anglin said:October 28, 2013 5:32 am PST
Hey it's Andrew, the Lynn double bassist who sat in with you and Gabe for the Symphony of the Americas concert a few weeks back. I wanted to write to you to tell you that your Figments Of My Imagination album was incredible. That was seriously some of the most impressive bass playing that I've heard in a long time. The tone of the bass alone blew me away. Amazing rhythm section playing man, seriously. The solos........Holy S#@! man, I would hope to get a lesson in jazz bass improvisation from you, it's only classical studies here at Lynn, but I would love to learn how to solo the way you did on your album. The arco playing was a great touch to the album, loved all the lyrical phrasing and sweet vibrato. The ponticello tremolos you had were really well placed. The band you had on the album sounded so professional, amazing players, what a great group you had for your album. I'm suprised that this album isn't distributed on a jazz record label, every song sounded pro man. I'm not one to over-praise anybody to make them feel good, but your album was the real deal. Thank you so much for giving me a copy of it. As promised, I will make a copy for Katie and Jeff. My best to Gabe, it was a blast playing with you guys, I hope to play in your section again soon.
Coco Rouzier said:October 28, 2013 5:27 am PST
Every down beat with you, Don Wilner, has been great because of your "in the pocket" playing style and your deep respect for the music. Thank you!
Mark Bruce Hurwitz said:October 27, 2013 6:25 pm PST
Don not only is an accomplished musician, he has made great strides in promoting and keeping jazz alive for the masses. Thanks Don.