Nathan Kersey-Wilson is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, and musical director dedicated to bringing fresh, joyous, and soulful sounds into the world. Currently based in Los Angeles, he has years of professional performing and recording experience on alto and tenor saxophone, flute, piano, bass, guitar, vocals, and beatboxing. He has directed, composed, and arranged for groups whose styles represent a large musical spectrum, from R&B to big band to hip hop to musical theater to a cappella to rock. Nathan’s career has led him to share the stage with legends such as Kenny Burrell, Joshua Redman, Dave Koz, Calvin Keys, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Dam-Funk, and he has been a supporting act for groups like Charles Bradley, Portugal the Man, Haim, Shiny Toy Guns, Lalah Hathaway, and Common. He recently graduated from the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology with a concentration in Jazz Saxophone Performance. He available for booking/collaboration and would love to hear from you! See “Booking” –>
Nathan was born in Santa Cruz, CA, but most of his musical upbringing took place in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began playing alto saxophone and piano in the year 2000 AD, and immediately displayed his knack for composing and arranging when he organized a saxophone trio that soon conquered the streets of Berkeley with his arrangements of jazzed-up christmas songs and originals. In 2004, Nathan won the award for “Best Original Song,” in Downbeat Magazine’s Next Generation Competition, and from then on, he knew that he had a future filled with music. While he was still in middle school, he organized an instrumental jazz/funk group called “The Heptet” that achieved reasonable local success and released an album “Live at E’xpression.” While in High School, he founded “Funky Bus and the U-Turns,” which eventually grew into a twelve-piece R&B band, featuring lead singer Courtney Knott, and became a became a local sensation, releasing an album and performing at numerous Bay Area festivals and events. Nathan also played in the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, a highly competitive group that performed at most of the high school jazz festivals on the west coast, placing first on many occasions. At these festivals, Nathan often received award recognition as a soloist both with the large ensemble and the smaller jazz combos. During his senior year in High School, Nathan was approached by fellow student Abby Simons to help write an original musical. In April 2009, the new musical “Double Digits” was premiered at The Florence Schwimmley Little Theater at Berkeley High School. It was fully produced, with a 30-person cast, 11-piece band, lighting, costumes, the works. Having composed and arranged most of the music, Nathan was music director, and Abby was. “Double Digits” is both a heartwarming story about difficulties of being in 5th grade and a commentary on the misplaced priorities of the deteriorating American education system. It ran for 5 performances, sold out on 2 nights, and raised over $12,000 for the Berkeley High School Drama Department.
In Fall 2009, Nathan entered the UCLA Ethnomusicology Department with an emphasis in Jazz Studies, Saxophone Performance, and soon dived into the local music scene. He joined the UCLA Jazz Orchestra and played in a jazz combos. Nathan joined UCLA Medleys A Cappella, a community service-based vocal group with a mission to bring joy through music to those who need it most. After a year, Nathan became the musical director for this group and developed a love for a cappella arranging for its ability to speak so directly to audience’s hearts. Nathan now has a catalogue of over 20 arrangements that are available online. In 2013, Medleys won the ICCA Berkeley Quarterfinal, and Nathan won the award for Outstanding Arrangement.
Nathan joined many musical groups at UCLA, including hard-hitting rock band “The Ten Thousand,” Hip-Hop/Funk/Jazz collective “Free Food,” riff-rockin’ power trio “Gearth,” indie trio “The Psykes,” and the backing bands for Pop singer-songwriter Josef Gordon and the soulful Moses Sumney. In his senior year, Nathan discovered the magic of loop pedal and began a unique solo project, in which incorporates all of instruments to perform original songs and covers. He also organized a jazz sextet, and will soon release an album of all original jazz, funk, and fusion compositions performed by this group. In an attempt to revamp and unite the UCLA live music community, Nathan organized and ran sound for concerts at his apartment in his last year of college- these ranged from a Christmas party featuring UCLA a cappella groups, to jam-packed shows featuring local bands, to popular open mic nights.
Nathan is determined to change the world through music, whether by creating sounds that are deeply moving, exploring the limitlessness of sonic expression, using music to support admirable causes, or by simply bringing that much more joy and love into the world.