In 1961, after experimenting with a workshop band for four years, Wilson formed a new orchestra which made a string of successful albums for the Pacific Jazz label throughout the '60s, featuring soloists like Harold Land, Teddy Edwards, Bud Shank, Jack Wilson, and Joe Pass. One tune that he wrote for the Moment of Truth album, "Viva Tirado" (later reprised on Live and Swinging) became a surprise hit single for the Latin rock group El Chicano in 1970. He scored films and TV programs, worked as an arranger for recordings by singers such as Al Hibbler, Bobby Darin, and Johnny Hartman, contributed arrangements to the Duke Ellington band, and wrote music for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also started a series of hugely entertaining and informative classes in jazz history at California State University, Northridge (then San Fernando Valley State College) in 1970, moving them to UCLA in 1992, and had his own radio program on L.A.'s KBCA-FM from 1969 to 1976.
Wilson continued to lead big bands off and on through the '80s and '90s, as well as running the orchestra for Redd Foxx's NBC shows and serving as one of the Los Angeles jazz scene's more revered elder statesmen. In 1995, he commemorated more than half-a-century as a leader by releasing State Street Sweet, a vigorous tribute to the durability of his work, and scoring a solid hit at the Playboy Jazz Festival. In 1996, Wilson's life's work was archived by the Library of Congress, and in 1997 he completed Theme for Monterey, a piece commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival. In 2003 he recorded New York, New Sound, his debut for Mack Avenue Records, which went on receive a Grammy nomination in the "Best Large Jazz Ensemble" category. Several albums for Mack Avenue followed with In My Time in 2005, Monterey Moods in 2007, and Detroit in 2009. In 2011, Wilson released his fifth Mack Avenue album, the classical-themed Legacy. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi