Talk Business With Me

A wide-ranging interview I did for this podcast. You can listen on Spotify

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Published in PSU podcast interview on 11/6/2023

Press for all in all (2020)

“The set opens with “United We Stand,” Wilensky blowing for the rafters on what sounds like an intro to a free jazz rant, that segues into the coolest of soul jazz grooves—it sounds like Wilson Pickett is standing in the wings, waiting to make his appearance—laid down by the leader and his top notch rhythm section: keyboardist Clay Giberson, bassist Bill Athens and drummer Micah Hummel. The soul groove theme settles in with a gorgeous ballad, “Christmas In Argentina,” that has a smooth, lustrous flow. Pianist Giberson takes a supremely assured solo, then adds a light synthesizer frosting on the cake leading into Wilensky’s powerful lead. It is a meticulously-crafted sound that brings to mind some of the CTI Recordings of the 1970s—Stanley Turrentine’s “Baddest Turrentine” (1974) in particular.”

— Dan McClenaghan
All About Jazz (November 20, 2020

Article in Allegro (November 2020)

Click on the link to read  my article for the AFM Local 802 publication Allegro : “Surviving (And Potentially Thriving) In the Pandemic.

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Published in Allegro on 11/1/2020

Downbeat Feature (February 2020)

I am honored that Downbeat Magazine transcribed and analyzed my solo on “Reckless Tongue,” (one of my compositions on the Group Therapy record) in the February, 2020 issue. You can also read a letter I wrote to the editor, and see my testimonial in an advertisement for reed and mouthpiece company, Bari. A veritable trifecta!

Published in Downbeat Magazine on 1/1/2020

Featured in Downbeat (September, 2018)

It’s nuts, but I’m featured in the same issue as Bootsie Collins, Wayne Shorter and Christian McBride! Not bad company!

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on 9/1/2018

Press for good music (2018)

“Good Music is a remarkably cohesive set, in spite of its disparate compositional sources—Gershwin, The Beatles, The Youngbloods, Sammy Cahn, Pablo Beltran Ruiz, George Cates, to go along with five strong Wilensky originals. Credit Wilensky’s focused musical personality and vision . . . An inspired outing.”                                                                                                                     

— Dan McClenaghan
All About Jazz (June 18, 2018)

“Dan Wilensky began his love affair with the sax at age nine after seeing a Duke Ellington Orchestra concert. When he was 17, he studied with Joe Henderson and was hired by Ray Charles as lead sax when he graduated from high school! Wilensky specializes on tenor and soprano but also plays alto, baritone and C-melody saxophones, flute, alto flute, piano, and keyboards. His musical range of styles is terrific. He composed five of the eleven songs on this disc and also plays a range of covers from “’S Wonderful” (George and Ira Gershwin) and “I Should Care” (Sammy Cahn) to Lennon & McCartney’s “And I Love Her” and a stunning version of Chet Powers plea for peace, “Get Together”. The setting is mostly as a trio with Dave Captain (bass) and Jason Palmer (drums). Guitarist Dan Balmer joins in on four songs and Mike Danner (accordion) on one. I would have to say that the title is a substantial understatement!

–Dave Rogers WTJU FM (June 19, 2018)

Downbeat Article (March, 2018)

My latest article for Downbeat Magazine is called The Art of Band Leadership. It’s a thorough discussion of band dynamics and how to thrive in one of the most challenging and enjoyable jobs in the world!

Published in Downbeat Magazine by Dan Wilensky on 3/1/2018

Downbeat Article (March, 2017)

My latest article for Downbeat Magazine is titled “A Note On The Big Picture.” It focuses on the role of musicians in the current cultural, political and economic climate, touching on everything from discrimination in the music business to the definition of “selling out.” Read more…

Published in Downbeat Magazine by Dan Wilensky on 2/1/2017

Downbeat Article (October, 2016)

My latest article for Downbeat Magazine pays homage to that beautiful and unpredictable animal – the audience. A fun read for musicians and civilians alike. Available at newstands and the archives at

Published in Downbeat Magazine by Dan WIlensky on 10/1/2016

Live at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance


Here’s a photo from our sold out show at a super-cool art gallery/jazz club in Cloverdale, CA. Great night, great venue! Randy Vincent (guitar), Doug Miller (bass), Alex Aspinall (drums) and me. Photo by Chelsea Judith.

Press formade in portland (2015)


                     Featured in Downbeat Magazine’s                       Best Albums of 2015!

 “Joyful … Soulful … Rollicking …. Memorable. Made In Portland draws upon Wilensky’s years of expertise, and features some of Oregon’s top local musicians. One soon appreciates why Polyglot is the name of the record label. There is no shortage of variety on this disc. Each of the 13 songs, including seven Wilensky originals and a free improvisation, has it’s own plot.”

– Scott Yanow
Downbeat (November, 2015)

“A superb session of vocal and contemporary jazz. A truly gifted artist and multi-instrumentalist, Dan Wilensky’s highly-entertaining Made In Portland provides a showcase for this saxophonist to feature his more than appreciable chops on the reeds and his talents as a composer in one nicely-polished musical endeavor, compelling in all respects.”

– Edward Blanco
All About Jazz (November 11, 2015)

“A lovingly-crafted album that keeps the listener guessing.”

– Dan Bilawsky
All About Jazz (November 25, 2015)

Interview on KCSM, California

      KCSM Interview

This interview with KCSM’s Alisa Clancy, recorded on 9/28/15, starts with a tune from a Mark Murphy record I played on. Tunes from Made In Portland are interspersed with a fun and freewheeling conversation with drummer Alex Aspinall and myself. Fast forward as necessary!

Downbeat Article (October, 2015)


My latest article for Downbeat focuses on the beauty of the jam scenes in Portland and elsewhere, along with a few stories about bands I’ve sat in with over the years.

Published in Downbeat Magazine by Dan Wilensky on 9/28/2015

Radio Feature on WGLT (September, 2015)

A radio feature for WGLT Chicago; tracks from Made In Portland with my narration. Also available at iTunes as a podcast.

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Published in on 9/11/2015

David Bowie to Broadway: Dan Wilensky back in Berkeley

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 7.57.45 PM“Fresh out of Berkeley High in the summer of 1979, Dan Wilensky had to make a fateful decision. The prestigious Eastman School of Music was offering a full scholarship at the same time that the Ray Charles Orchestra came calling for the young saxophonist. Wilensky chose Charles, and the gig turned into a six-month bandstand education that launched a gloriously diverse and insistently creative career. He returns to town next week for a series of gigs, making his first Berkeley appearances as a leader since heading to New York in 1980. Appropriately, he kicks off the run at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Freight & Salvage, performing as a special guest with the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble and Berkeley High Combo A (which just earned top honors at the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2015 Next Generation Jazz Festival)…”

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Published in Berkeleyside by Andrew Gilbert on 4/9/2015

Interview on WGLT (February, 2015)

Wilensky is interviewed on WGLT Chicago. Discussion about my early career and my new record Back In The Mix. Also available at iTunes as a podcast.

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Article for The Instrumentalist

The InstrumentalistI wrote this article for The Instrumentalist which is sent to numerous schools in America. The topic: Getting gigs – a taller order now than it was in my day. Wait a minute: it is my day!

Published in The Instrumentalist by Dan Wilensky on 2/1/2015

Downbeat Article (August, 2014)

DOWNBEAT2014“The Rigors and Rewards” of the Road discusses exactly that! I spent the better part of a decade on the road, so I know of what I speak. The stories I could tell . . . Well, actually I cover some juicy ones in my book, Musician!

Published in Downbeat Magazine by Dan Wilensky on 8/1/2014

Press for Musician! (2013)

MusicianThere really isn’t a single page that doesn’t have words of gold on it.

— Tom Erdmann
Saxophone Journal (2011)

Dan Wilensky’s Musician! is the must-read book for those who play a musical instrument or wish that they could.

— Jersey Shore Style (2010)

. . .Dan Wilensky is a Renaissance Man and an educator, both facets of his character evidenced in Musician!, and [his] album If You Only Knew. What Wilensky provides over these two offerings is a master class in tasteful and well-behaved musicianship in the real world . . .dense with information, and presented with a wry sense of humor and a wink . . .Entertaining, informative, reverent and helpful, Musician! is a treat for anyone interested in music.

— C. Michael Bailey
All About Jazz (2011)

Dan Wilensky’s world-class musical skills are one-in-a-million, and the results of where those skills have taken him, and the experience and lessons he has since distilled, are here for musicians of every caliber to absorb and for all readers to enjoy.

— (2010)

Read more…

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Downbeat article (March, 2013)

DOWNBEAT2013 “Lose Yourself in the Music – Without Getting Lost” is about balancing freedom and discipline, the moment with the structure. Back issues of Downbeat are always available at

Published in Dowbeat Magazine by Dan Wilensky on 3/1/2013

Press for Back in the Mix (2012)

“. . . bold tones and a swaggering intensity . . . Wilensky and Johnson make formidable frontline partners.”

— Bill Milkowski
Jazz Times (May, 2012)

” . . . a pleasure to hear . . . innovative and excellent.”

— Ric Bang
Jazz Scan (May, 2012)

“Four top jazz players and a great discovery.”

— Jürg Sommer
Der Sonntag (February, 2012)

Read more…

Saxophone Journal Feature (2011)


“Born into a musical family in Ann Arbor, Michigan, reedman, composer, arranger, and author Wilensky was raised in Berkeley, California. In the legendary Berkeley high school music program he played in various groups with future jazz stars…”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Published in Saxophone Journal by Thomas Erdmann on 5/1/2011

Press for Group Therapy (2011)

Group TherapyFrom the quirky, laidback blues “Reckless Tongue” to the alluring, Spanish-flavored “Exotikiss” and the edgy rubato number “Certain Nights,” fueled by Phelps’ audacious, distortion-laced guitar lines, they cover a lot of musical ground while exhibiting uncanny group empathy.”

— Bill Milkowski

Jazz Times (October, 2011)

. . . a mature, generous music, that manages to sound both spontaneous and slightly lived-in, Wilensky’s welcoming, burnished tone a tethered center throughout the madcap romp of his compositions. That is a veteran’s feat.

— All About Jazz (May, 2011)

Nothing short of brilliant.

— (May, 2011)

Press for If Only You Knew (2010)

Were we to consider If You Only Knew academically, it would be a master class on composition, interpretation, performance, practice and repertoire selection . . .brevity, professionalism, structural musical competency, simplicity, humility and grace . . .The title piece is a ballad of careful beauty that comes to a simmer and beyond . . .

— All About Jazz (March, 2011)

. . . Wilensky’s individuality can be heard with his first notes. His sound is bright, crisp, and completely relaxed in all registers. His lines are direct, to the point, and completely his own; he just does not sound like anyone else.

— Saxophone Journal (March, 2011)

This straight-ahead recording has the charm of four friends getting together in the afternoon, on a day off, to play some music that challenges the mind yet focuses on feel, whether the style is ballads, up-tempo numbers or mid-tempo charmers. Together, they create a recording that delights and impresses, but not by shoving their abilities down your throat. Instead, they take their time to lay out lines with thought and care . . . There is an easy rapport between these musicians best demonstrated in a wonderfully shifting and lilting of backbeat heavy accents on the title piece. Slowing building the tune’s intensity, Neumann is incredibly tasteful and insistently prodding at the same time as he pushes the tune to a great climatic height. Wilensky’s ending solo is full of the fire you can see made him so admired and sought after as a rock musician . . . If you enjoy thoughtful, at times introspective playing by those who have already earned their stripes and have no need to show off, then you’ll be totally captivated by this recording.

— (January, 2011)

Read more…

Press for Advanced Sax (2000)

advanced sax cover

Advanced Sax is an incredibly difficult yet exceptionally hip book of saxophone patterns and etudes.  — Saxophone Journal (2011)

This is the book I’ve been looking for. Finally, challenging exercises that sound good.  — Leslie Klaus (2009)

It’s a great book!  — Zach Ferguson (2006)

Press for And Then Some (1997)

This is the first solo release for a man whose varied pedigree includes stints with Ray Charles, David Bowie, Faith No More, Steve Winwood, Madonna, R. Kelly and many others. He was also a member of the seminal Who It is!, which counted Richard Tee, Steve Gadd, Cornell Dupree and Will Lee among its members. Everything about this release is top-notch, from the material to the recording to the packaging. Needless to say, the performances are outstanding as well. There is an element of experimentation and grit that takes this way beyond CD 101, yet it is as smooth and groovin’ as anything you’d hear there. Wilensky’s tone – whether on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes or flute and alto flute – is full of depth and warmth and expression.

— Musician’s Exchange (October,1997)

Wilensky has a groovy sax playing style with a touch of funk. A great solo artist that gives contemporary jazz fans a treat. A name that I’m sure we will hear more from soon!

— (March, 1998)

I’ve listened to this CD at least a dozen times, and I keep hearing new things. This is instrumental music for people who are bored by instrumental music. Excellent!

— iTunes Customer (December, 2010)

Testimonial: A blast from the past

Hi Dan,

I doubt you remember me, but Josh Margolis suggested you to play on a ‘vanity’ CD I wrote and produced called Crossed My Heart circa 1997. You came into studio loaded down with 4 saxes. I was naive and had NO charts, just gaps in songs where I wanted a lyrical sax. You asked what I was ‘after’ and I stuttered something . . and then asked if you’d like to hear the tracks before trying a take. “Nah”, you said nonchalantly. “Just put ’em on and hit ‘record’.” I thought, ‘this guy is cocky as hell’, but I acquiesced and did as you asked. Four songs and 20 minutes later, you had laid down 4 of the most beautiful, perfect tracks I could imagine – each one a first and only take. They all ended up on the finished CD (which, having spent all my budget recording, I never marketed or officially released). I happened to listen to it last night after several years, and was once again gobsmacked by your improv skills, lyricism, soul and empathetic channeling abilities – absolute perfection and magic. So tho no doubt you’ve long forgotten me (and no, I ain’t fishin’ here so don’t even bite), I wanted to say a belated thanks for bringing so much beauty, nuance and color to my work. I remain gobsmacked and in awe of your talent, and it’s so great to see the respected and honored veteran you’ve evolved so gracefully into. Having you play on my songs was one of the highlights of my musical life – and I’ll never forget the musical alchemy you so deftly conjured that magical night so long ago. It was an honor and a life-affirming joy that lingers to this day!


Steve Uhler


Strike a PoseHere’s my “centerfold moment” on the cover of a venerable French jazz magazine with the Slickaphonics in 1983. This fabulous band was off the grid and almost too much fun! We were very popular in Europe, but only did one gig in the States. Crazy. Top, left to right: Jim Payne, Mark Helias, and Ray Anderson. Kneeling: Alan Jaffe.

Published in Jazz Magazine on 6/1/2003