After graduating from Berklee College of Music, Dennis Wilson began his professional career with Lionel Hampton as trombonist, arranger, and musical director. He has been a lead/solo trombonist for the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, The New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and for ten years with Mr. William James "Count" Basie and his Orchestra.
He created and directed the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra. This ensemble featured outstanding jazz artist such as Rodney Whittaker, Geri Allen, Robert Hurst, Vincent Chandler, Randy Hawes, Scott Belck, Diego Rivera, Andrew Bishop, Wes Anderson, Pete Siers, Ellen Rowe, and Dwight Adams. Under his leadership the ensemble performed with Jimmy Heath, The Manhattan Transfer, Gerald Wilson, Randy Brecker, Janis Siegel, Christian McBride and many more.
Wilson received a Grammy Award nomination for arrangements created for Manhattan Transfer. He has performed on over six Grammy Winning Albums with the Count Basie Orchestra. His experience includes work with many jazz greats including Sarah Vaughn, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, and Joe Williams.
A subject of biographical reference in both "Who's Who in Education" and "Who's Who in Entertainment", Mr. Wilson is presently the Music Production Manager for the Count Basie Orchestra. His primary task there is the development of jazz education opportunities for the Basie Orchestra. Mr. Wilson's educational involvements include being a member of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE). He initially served IAJE as a member of the President's Advisory Board and the Planning and Development Committee. He currently is a member of the IAJE Resource Team. Wilson joined the music faculty at Kansas State University as Director of Jazz Studies in 1994 and was appointed to the position of Assistant Dean for the Kansas State University College of Arts and Sciences in 1998.
In May of 2000 Professor Dennis Wilson joined the music faculty of the University of Michigan, School of Music. His duties at Michigan include directing their Jazz Lab Ensemble, Jazz Trombone Ensemble, Jazz Flute Ensemble, and arranging. Working with outstanding artists/jazz educators Ed Sarath, Ellen Rowe, Bennie Green, Michael Gould and Robert Hurst, Wilson also coordinates the University of Michigan, Rhythm Section Institute and is the Executive Director of the University of Michigan Jazz Festival. He created the Trombone Symposium at the University of Michigan and now is academically ranked as an Associate Professor of Music.
He led the trombone section of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra under the musical direction of Mr. Jon Faddis. In 2001 Dennis Wilson became the first “Artist in Resident” for the San Jose Jazz Society. This new creative position had him directly involved in the world’s largest free jazz festival. In 2002 he created the San Jose Jazz Orchestra which showcases the rich talent of the entire greater San Francisco / San Jose area.