Northwest State of Mind

Northwest State of Mind  from my album Made In Portland, is a tribute to my adopted home, the magnificent Pacific Northwest. Having travelled the world, I can confirm that there’s nothing else quite like this place. If you’ve been here, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, start making plans!

The video speaks for itself, but I’d like to point out that the pristine scenery is partly a result of so many people cherishing the land. Responsible environmental stewardship and responsible industry are not mutually exclusive. (more…)

Talk Business With Me

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

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, ... Continue Reading
A man wearing a mask playing the violin.

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. Continue Reading
A man in black jacket holding a guitar with a white backgrpounr

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! Continue Reading
A man wearing sunglasses and holding a trumpet.

Downbeat Article (June, 2019)

My latest article in Downbeat is all about "NO"!  Well, let's just say: be selective about the gigs you accept. Know when to quit! Check it out – many folks are saying it's a fun read no matter what profession you're  in. Back issues of Downbeat are always available at Continue Reading
A magazine cover with two men holding guitars.

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! Continue Reading

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 ... Continue Reading
A man holding a guitar in front of him.

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! Continue Reading
A man sitting at the piano in front of a piano.

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." ... Continue Reading
A man holding a saxophone in front of a wall.

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 Continue Reading
A group of people sitting around a table.

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. Continue Reading

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 ... Continue Reading

Interview on KCSM, California

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! Continue Reading
A man sitting at a table with a microphone.

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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading
A man standing next to two saxophones printed on a paper

David Bowie to Broadway: Dan Wilensky back in Berkeley

"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 ... Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading
A man in black shirt standing next to red chairs.

Article for The Instrumentalist

I 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! Continue Reading
A woman with glasses and pink lipstick on her face.

Downbeat Article (August, 2014)

"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! Continue Reading

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)

... Continue Reading

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Downbeat article (March, 2013)

 "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 Continue Reading

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)

... Continue Reading

A magazine cover with three men playing saxophones.

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. Continue Reading

Press for Group Therapy (2011)

From 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 ... Continue Reading

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)

... Continue Reading

A black and silver saxophone sitting on top of a red background.

Press for Advanced Sax (2000)

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) Continue Reading

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 experimen... Continue Reading

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 ... Continue Reading
A group of men in striped shirts and ties.


Here’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. Continue Reading