Listening to these trio sides from the fifties its obvious that Wiggins was a talented versatile musician.

Fresh Sound Records

Gerald Wiggins – piano;  Gene Wright or Joe Comfort – bass;  Bill Richmond, Jackie Mills, or Bill Douglas – drums

You may not be familiar with the pianist, Gerald Wiggins, but if youre a fan of the piano trio you should give this incredible musician a listen.  Fresh Sound Records has released a terrific 2CD set of some of Wiggins classic trio sessions from the fifties.

The set includes the albums RELAX AND ENJOY IT!, WIGGINWITH WIG, REMINISCINWITH WIG plus five tracks from a compilation record and four from a fifties television show.

Wiggins was known for his flawless technique, discriminating phrasing, and his creativity at the piano.  His playing style showed that he understood the different jazz genres.  He easily added in elements of swing, bebop, and rhythm and blues.

He was best known for backing singers like Lena Horne, Kay Starr, Dinah Washington, Helen Humes, and Anita Day.

Wiggins started playing classical music at age five. He wasnt crazy about it but then someone played an Art Tatum record for him.  He said that was when he became passionate about music.

Wiggins played a lot of other peoples compositions but he was a fine writer as well.  I was impressed with his self-penned tunes from a Crown Records compilation.

Criss Cross sounds like a train coming down the tracks with a boogie-woogie beat. You dont hear Wiggins using his left hand for just block chords and bass lines.  He plays melody off of what his right hand is doing so it can sound like two people are sitting at the piano.

Grey Skies is a great example of how a piano trio should play a ballad. Gene Wrights bass lines are warm and resonant. Drummer Bill Richmonds gentle brushwork make for some sparse and thoughtful fills; nothing flashy or busy. I like the way Wrights bass adds counter melodies to the pianists lines.

Wiggins also used Joe Comfort on bass and Jackie Mills or Bill Douglass on drums during this period. X-15 is an uptempo bop tune with bluesy phrases and intricate melodic lines.

Listening to these trio sides from the fifties its obvious that Wiggins was a talented versatile musician.  He began his career as a musician accompanying comedian Stepin Fetchit.  He worked with Louis Armstrong and Benny Carter.  In the 1960s he worked in film and television.  He was even vocal coach for Marilyn Monroe.