Born in Berkeley, California, Howard Wiley displayed a unique musical talent from a very young age, while performing at his local Gospel church. Wiley says “the first time I picked up the saxophone, it became a part of me, like an additional limb, I knew I had found my purpose.”
Wiley studied the saxophone in high school, was selected to be a member of the Grammy All-American Jazz Band two years in a row at 14 and 15 years old. He travelled to both New York and Los Angeles performing with the best young musicians in the country at various activities related to Grammy Week. The following year, he was selected to participate in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz’s All-Star Band. This band of young lions studied andperformed with jazz greats including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Gerald Albright, and many others. Wiley then received a scholarship to Berklee School of Music; where he would graduate with honors. During his time with the Institute, Howard also met and collaborated with other rising stars of Jazz in Los Angeles, including Kamasi Washington, Tony Austin, Miles Mosley and more (the collective now known as the West Coast Get Down). To this day, Howard is still a member; recording and touring with them worldwide when not working on his solo projects.
At the age of 15, he released his first CD as a leader with the local press review stating “…this CD signals the arrival of the San Francisco Bay’s newest diamond in the rough.” In 2007 Wiley released his third album, The Angola Project, comprising ensemble pieces inspired by 1950s recordings from Angola State Prison. According to Jazz critic Daniel King of the San Francisco Chronicle, “What makes Wiley’s album a great listen is his textural range, his less-is-more compositional approach and his patience as a soloist. Instead of packing notes into every bar, he places them thoughtfully into well-paced improvisations.”
Wiley’s love of jazz and arranging led him to fuse his jazz sounds with funk. Ever the soulful live musician, Howard has built a strong reputation for presenting jazz shows ‘that you can dance to’. On experiencing Wiley in a live setting, journalist Drew Foxman writes, “…he befitted a dignified presence by displaying his deep reverence for the musicians with whom he was collaborating, unmasking the persona of an unassuming leader. This is a musician who understands his sound, not only in an ensemble, but in the history of music. This humility, though, translates into downright explosiveness on the bandstand.”
Howard Wiley has toured internationally, recorded and performed with artists including Miss Lauryn Hill, Sheila E, Cory Henry, Christian McBride, Chester Thompson and more. He is a Founding member of the new Bay Area collective BLACK LONDON, who are currently performing in and around Northern California. He has performed worldwide with other artists and with his solo project at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Fest, Blue Note Club, Madrone Art Bar, Cape Town Jazz Festival, the Grammy Museum, Yoshi’s Oakland, Malcolm X Jazz Festival, Sonoma Jazz Festival, Smalls NY and SXSW, to name a few. Recently, he was also a featured artist performing his original music for the official new APPLE iPhone commercial and global conference.