When Wilberforce, Ohio native Brian Wingard's mother, Barbara D. Wingard, bought him his first tenor saxophone, nobody had any clue what his junior high school band director, Bill Schumacher, was about to unleash and develop. Through Schumacher's teaching, sacrifice, encouragement and patience, Wingard would become a proficient multi-instrumentalist who would develop perfect pitch, before Schumacher challenged him to write a song for the school jazz band. Schumacher had fed what was already a raging fire—a fire which burns even hotter, today.
While earning a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Central State University in Wilberforce Ohio—and performing with jazz veterans Cal Collins, Kenny Poole, John Blake, and while Norris Turney—Wingard formed his first working jazz quintet, and began developing original compositions to share with the many grateful audiences that were to come.
A 2005 move to the state of New Mexico supplied unforseen inspiration toward richer jazz writing and performance. The daily sight of beautiful Southwest landscape and the clean, brisk mountain air fueled Wingard along, as recordings by masters Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Kirkland and Pat Metheny deepened and nourished his jazz writing foundation beyond dream capacity. Each composition was now emanating from a scintillating story, aptly represented by its title. Audiences comprised of the entire diverse New Mexico cultural palette would enjoy dinner, dance, or gaze at pristine sunsets over stoic mountain ranges as they were soothed by Wingard compositions. Grammy-nominated trumpeter Bobby Shew found that by the time Wingard asked for his help to present a farewell concert, the once-meager composition portfolio he had seen during his many times of performing with Wingard had blossomed into a collection of over two dozen full arrangements of diverse, stimulating and intriguing original material.
2016 brought Wingard the long-awaited dream of moving to the fertile birthplace of jazz--New Orleans, Louisiana. In this historic land of musical treasures, Wingard compositions now launch into the depths of more mature melodic and harmonic pairing, rhythmic and metrical manipulation, interpolation, and harmonic exploration, leading New Orleans masters Ellis, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis to graciously share their stage with Wingard, performing his pieces with him. Wingard's continual growth is evident by the University of New Orleans jazz faculty's selection of his piece “Can’t You Hear Me Call?” as the winner of the 2019 Ernest O. and Shirley N. Svenson Jazz Composition Award. Wingard premiered the same piece in front of jazz aficionados from all parts of the country, at the 2019 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, when he joined forces with the UNO Jazz All-Stars.
Only time will tell the direction in which the Wingard fire will burn next. Whatever the direction, it is certain to sound really good.