Coordinator of Jazz Studies
Jay Wilkinson received his BME and MM in trumpet performance from the University of Oklahoma. As a student he received numerous awards for trumpet performance in jazz and classical, and received a citation for jazz piano. Following his graduate degree, he spent time at the University of North Texas where he studied with Rodney Booth, Mike Steinel, Steve Wiest, and Keith Johnson.
Wilkinson is the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He has also taught privately at the Norman Music Institute, Infinity Music, and Imagine Music and Arts. His students have been accepted in honor bands, respected graduate programs like IU and UNT, professional touring shows, touring big bands, local dance bands and concert groups. One student was featured on David Letterman as the bassist for John Fulbright. During his time at OU he has been integral to the establishment of the Joni Rice Memorial Jazz Education Fund, the creation of the BMA and BA degrees with jazz emphases, the substantial increase in the number of guest artists that visit the campus each year, the growth of the chamber jazz area which has quadrupled in size, and the success of the OU Jazz Festival which he founded. He has also broadened his students’ experiences through collaborative efforts with the schools of music theatre, dance, and art. In addition, Wilkinson has participated at various local jazz festivals as a judge, clinician, and artist. He has been a featured performer at the Oklahoma Music Educator’s National Conference and has judged at the National Trumpet Competition in the jazz and middle school divisions in trumpet performance. Additionally, he has presented a lecture titled, “Eight Trusted Methods for Beginning Jazz Improvisation,” at a mini-ITG conference held at Oklahoma City University.
Wilkinson has a long history as a writer as well. He has created a jazz improvisation methods book for his students, he wrote a letter of tribute for the previous jazz director at OU, Mr. John Williams, which was included in the local music union’s newsletter, and he has contributed an article on the life of Chet Baker to “The Great Plains Encyclopedia.” As a composer he has written countless original works and arrangements. He is sought after by local musicians, music educators and other professionals to write various styles of music, like Danny White of Danny’s Blues Saloon Revue which was featured in a national blues magazine and has recorded numerous albums. He has written music for big band, jazz combo, New Orleans style street band, basketball band, string quartet, Ska band, trumpet ensemble, and brass quintet. He has also composed many original songs. Many of these works, like his tune, “Reality,” his originals set to the poetry of Langston Hughes, the music of Boyd Street Brass, his brass quintet works and his trumpet ensemble piece, “Cherokee, A Tribute,” have been recorded or performed at reputable events like the DJango Festival on Whidbey Island and Jazz in June.
Jay has performed at various locations across the U.S. as a vocalist and trumpet player and is a major performer in the Oklahoma City Metro area. He is a member of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and was once featured as a vocalist during a pops concert. This connection has allowed him the opportunity to perform with artists like Ray Charles, Mercedes Ellington, Al Jerreau, Manhattan Transfer, Byron Stripling, Chris Botti, Kristin Chenoweth, Renee Fleming, and Kelli O’Hara. He is a member of the Lyric Theatre Orchestra and often plays for traveling shows through Celebrity Attractions which feature some of this country’s finest Broadway performers. Wilkinson is also a trumpeter for the OKC Jazz Orchestra which has performed with Doc Severinsen, Bob Mintzer, Ben Patterson, and Tony Monaco. Jay has performed and toured with other smaller outfits. Boyd Street Brass performs at festivals and schools throughout Oklahoma and Texas and has completed their first album titled, “S’up Sucka.” The Hot Club of Oklahoma has performed at the Django Fest on Whidbey Island and the Django Fest held in Kittery, Maine. The Oklahoma Brass Quintet toured for several years visiting sites in Florida, Kentucky, Massachusettes, Texas, and Kansas. Aside from this work, Wilkinson performs with popular local groups like D’Calle and Frontier Brass. He has been a member of the Ambassador’s Choir, the barber shop quartet, “Rare Blend,” and was the lead singer for the Rice Dance Band and Moonlight Serenade. He has recorded on multiple occasions with groups like Danny’s Blues Saloon Revue, and the Grammy nominated Sugar Free All-Stars. Wilkinson was also able to perform on the streets of New Orleans with one of its local performing groups.