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Trumpeter Joe Wilder Dies at 92

NEA Jazz Master played with big bands and was active in TV and Broadway

Joe Wilder
Joe Wilder

Joe Wilder, a trumpeter, cornetist and flugelhornist most popular during the era of the big bands, died May 9 in New York City. A veteran of the orchestras of Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie and others, Wilder was 92. The cause of death was congestive heart failure.

A classically trained trumpeter, Wilder was born Feb. 22, 1922 in Colwyn, Pa., and raised in Philadelphia. He attended the Mastbaum Technical High School and by his teens was performing in big bands. After graduating, he joined the band of Les Hite. Wilder then joined Hampton’s band in 1943 but entered the military during that year (Wilder rejoined that band upon his discharge.). In 1947, Wilder moved to New York City, where he played in the band of saxophonist Jimmie Lunceford and was one of the first black musicians to play in Broadway pit bands. Wilder also played with Lucky Millinder in the late ’40s and with Dizzy Gillespie, among others.

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