Tag Archives: matt wilson

Matt Wilson at The Vanguard

The charismatic drummer is a big-picture guy, with dissonance and beauty, melody and abstraction, and whimsy and introspection, strolling hand in hand across his music. Dispensing myriad emotions is the goal, and this trumpet/key outfit is one of his most agile bands. On An Attitude For Gratitude they veer through a Scofield Cubano-bop, turn in a bittersweet “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and connect the existential dots between bubbles and rainbows. This is the perfect room for them.

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Matt Wilson Talks With Jason Crane

Matt Wilson Talks With Jason Crane

Thank God For Investigative Reporting

I’ve enjoyed the work of Armando Slice ever since I saw his first report. Glad he had an opportunity to connect with “great human being” Matt Wilson. I’m going to go spin “If I Were a Boy” now.

Which Monk Tune Is Most Fun To Play?

Glee spilled from Anthony Coleman’s fingers last night as he and his trio skipped around “Played Twice” the Undead Jazz Fest’s Littlefield hit. Terry Adams once told me that it’s silly to play anything that’s not fun. Marc Ribot recently told me that “fun is the only impulse I trust.” Elliott Sharp and Matt Wilson also had a blast bouncing through the master’s book. Which Thelonious tune brings out the giddy side of you? The question isn’t for musicians only. Record-spinning fans can answer, too. One of mine is “Coming On the Hudson.” Take it away…

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Here’s “Played Twice” – Team Coleman played it much quicker.

Five Vivid Moments @ Winter JazzFest

Small moves can create big pictures. There were several full sets I dug at Winterfest, but within them are many more curt passages or pithy exchanges that are still bubbling through my mind today. And they are…

BUTCH MORRIS FRISBEES HIS CARDS

The veteran improviser was leading JD Allen’s VISIONFUGITIVE! through an array of conductions, and things were going well. Rapt attention from his charges; inventive motifs that employed continuity and juxtaposition in equal measure. But part of the Jazzfest process is perform for perspective arts programmers, so in a nifty moment of wiseacre pragmatics, he flung out some cheat sheets regarding his innovative hand-signal system, and took time to verbally break down the way he gesturally interacts with his team. The set’s music was one of the most fun I’ve seen from him. That baton is really a magic wand, right?

GARY VERSACE TURNS PERCUSSIONIST

The band Bad Touch is comprised of saxophonist Loren Stillman, guitarist Nate Radley, organist Gary Versace and drummer Ted Poor. They play intricate pieces that nod to funk beats, wink to rock rhythms, and genuflect to the nuances of steady dynamic shifts. Precision is at their core. Well, it didn’t take long for their intra-band connections to start crackling, but one particular passage by the keyboardist proved his skills as an agent provocateur.  As the group was mildly disassembling a groove, Versace bent over the instrument with a madman look on his face. Instantly he turned drummer, chopping the action with staccato chords that turned up the heat and opened a new pathway for his mates to slip away on.

NASHEET WAITS EVOKES STEVE REICH

When drummers Eric McPherson and Nasheet Waits connect with saxophonist Abraham Burton, they call themselves Aethereal Base, which to some degree is about “changing atmospheres and textures.” Don’t know what you call it when McPherson’s MIA, but Nasheet had very little problem becoming Burton’s lone locomotive at Kenny’s Castaways late Saturday. The saxophonist reached the conclusion of a roaring exchange with his partner, and Waits began to develop a cymbal-less drum solo that worked a “simple” African pattern into a deeply detailed drama that blended repetition and substitution. At one point his hands were moving quicker than a dude running a Times Square shell game. Glorious.

JOHN HEBERT DOES THE CHA CHA

Matt Wilson was using every part of his drum set when I walked into The Bitter End towards the end of the entire weekend. Saxophonist Noah Preminger had begun his set with Ornette’s “Toy Dance,” and Wilson had a harmolodic flurry of splash cymbals, tom-toms, snare, and high-hat bringing the noise. But the way bassist John Hebert was whirling and bouncing and swinging with his instrument is what stuck in my head. Up on one heel, down with a bit of a leap; the bassist bobs and weaves as he created his lines, which were short yet liquid phrases that spilled into one another to assist with the group’s momentum. Yep, he did some dancing of his own.

ORRIN EVANS TURNS CHEERLEADER

The pianist’s Captain Black Big Band said farewell to some of Philly’s recently fallen, and tipped the hat to the kind of large ensembles that like to swagger while they swing. At a wall-to-wall Sullivan Hall, they landed punch after punch – four trombones throwing lots of whomp into the cascading lines of the leader’s arrangements. Or was the up-front charisma of Evans himself that boosted the energy. Leaning forward to exclaim a great solo, standing up to bark out his exuberance, swaying and skipping when the music got to be wild enough to impress even him, he was one of the most physically demonstrative leaders of the weekend.

Also Vivid: Jeff Lederer‘s opening tenor salvo with Bigmouth’s set; if you’ve only got 50 minutes, kill ‘em from the start. Avishai Cohen‘s trumpet blast at the tail end of his sister’s LPR set; a fierce assault that had no prob showing its sweet side. The grace of Jacky Terrasson’s bassist Ben Williams; during one of the pianist’s Jarrett-esque tearjerkers, Williams brought loads of slippery beauty to the table. Charles Gayle‘s fire; I wasn’t even watching the saxophonist’s trio (couldn’t make it close enough to the stage), but even while rolling through yadda-yadda-yadda conversations with pals in the back, the band reached out and shook me three or four times. That’s power.

Top 5 Moments: Search & Restore Fundrai$er

Team Schatz invited a wealth of improvisers to engage in short bits of creativity Monday night at (Le) Poisson Rouge. It was a fundraiser for a Kickstarter project that’s also wonderfully creative.  Here are some the show’s highlights.

1. Brandon Ross’ Hair Strum:

The guitarist used one of his tiniest instruments for the 10-minute performance, and his plucking was genteel throughout. But for a moment, he went for a kind of picking action that took the ethereality to another level, strumming the strings with a dangle of his dreads.

2. McBride & Wilson’s Hard Drive:

Christian McBride had already coaxed some swing out of Avishai Cohen when it came time for the next participant to set up shop. That was M@ Wilson and his patented frolic. The high-flying nature of their exchange pushed the bassist to dance up and down the fingerboard. The quicker his hands moved, the more articulate he sounded. Wilson pushed and pushed and pushed.

3. Theo Bleckman’s Squawk Box:

Ralph Alessi was deep into an enticing abstract ramble that was being supported by DJ Logic’s back beats. But the vocalist’s arrival ferried the music to another place. Arriving with a plunger mute, he became a human trombone, growling and mewling with enough whimsy to conjure  a Tuvan throat singer. There was a little David Moss and Phil Minton in the air.

4. Hal Willner’s Health Class:

Setting up shop at the wheels of steel, the downtown doyen fed his mate M@ Wilson a big dollop of everything. “Hang On Sloopy” got some laffs, but the segue between the ’60s-style high school birds and bees lesson (“the testicles are in a pouch outside the body”) and the Malcolm X-like fillosofizing became the sweet spot, although making Steve Bernstein play along with Sonny & Cher’s faux gypsy horns on “Bang Bang” a few minutes later was also a kick.

5. Josh Roseman’s Farewell:

The trombonist is wonderfully versatile. His first string of solo notes – coming off of a whispered exchange with Don Byron – felt like a cellist had taken the stage. The evening’s closer, Roseman chose a muted approach and kept inching his way towards a melody he was in the process of clarifying. Great goodbye maneuver, fetching for sure, delicate and deep.

Searching, Restoring, Documenting, Dueting

One of the more fascinating fundraisers to come along of late takes place MONDAY night at 10 pm at Le Poisson Rouge. The Search & Restore team is hosting a cool concert of duets to support its inspired video documentary project which plans to film 200 New York jazz performances for posterity. This is no ordinary duet deal. It’s a round robin affair, with 22 improvisers participating. One player starts the cycle, and every five minutes another joins him, with the previous musician falling away. Reid Anderson, Matt Wilson, Hal Willner, Steven Bernstein, Roswell Rudd, Avishai Cohen, Henry Grimes, Dan Weiss, DJ Logic,  Jason Lindner, Ralph Alessi, Brandon Ross, Josh Roseman, Ben Allison, Christian McBride, Don Byron, Mark Guiliana, Theo Bleckman, Andrew D’Angelo, David Binney, Andy Milne, and Tim Lefebvre  are all in the mix. Who will interact with who? Uncertain. What is for sure is that S&R’s Adam Schatz is an inspired go-getter, one of the forces behind the Undead Jazz Festival and the upcoming Winter Jazz Festival. S&R,whose mission is to introduce modern improvising ensembles to a younger audience, has put on an array of impressive shows in NYC for a couple years now.  Check my Twitter feed for show updates (#hapboym).

Top Five Moments of the Newport Jazz Festival 2010

Fun weekend. Here are a few of the moments that refuse to leave my mind.

Matt Wilson’s Bubbles:

We all know he’s one of those “pure imagination” cats, but the drummer was truly on his game at a show that kicked-off Sunday morning’s action. He’s usually got a wild card up his sleeve, and in this case it was a kid’s bubble-making machine that was supposed to add some visual fun to his spin on a  Carl Sandburg poem.  It was too windy and the soapy spheres weren’t shooting out, and as his double quartet provided some truly luminous sounds, he rolled with the flow and silently mouthed a message to the audience: “Imagine bubbles.” It was a cinch to do so. Wilson always makes everything ultra vivid.

Brian Blade’s Drama:

I stood behind the drummer and looked into the crowd. One guy was biting his nails, another fidgeting in his seat. Powering David Binney’s Third Occasion ensemble, Blade turned a wealth of rhythmic subtleties into a surge of sound that was always in flux. When a cymbal crash finally punctuated a passage, it was borderline frightening.

Matt Shipp’s Focus:

The pianist is often locked into his keys when he’s on stage, and this was no different. But his slippery storm of notes, forever moving from register to register, was a study in daring, and his mates – bassist Joe Morris and saxophonist Marshall Allen – got all the inspiration they needed from his rumbling volcano approach.

George Wein Calls “The Mooche”:

“We’ve played it before, but we never rehearsed it,’ said the impressario/pianist during a gig with his Newport All Stars, and the somewhat informal romp through Ellington’s jewel took shape moment by moment, with a gaggle of horns – everyone from Harry Allen to Randy Sandke to Anat Cohen – finding a harmony to use on the head and some elbow room to stretch a bit.  Melodies like this generate goose bumps, and the group’s easy-going attitude was key to the vibe.

Dave Douglas Has A Hankering:

Nothing new about jazz bandleaders doing non-jazz tunes, but some covers fit better than others. The trumpeter’s Brass Ecstasy ensemble seemed wonderfully built for a saunter through Hank Williams‘ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and as the leader starting telling us about the moon going behind a cloud, I swear I heard Marcus Rojas‘s tuba making like a forlorn steel guitar.

Newport Jazz: Listen On NPR

Missed the Fest? No You Didn’t!

Top Five Jazz Moments Of The Last 48 Hours

1. Tyshawn Sorey Working Steve Lehman’s Charts  (Jazz Gallery)

There’s something absolute about his every move. The drummer brings cherubs and robots to each bandstand he graces. Meaning the way he unites poetry and precision, and the way he immerses himself in lithe kinetics, defined the action last night. “No Neighborhood Rough Enough” indeed.

2. Matt Wilson Gives Beyonce a Smooch On The Cheek (Iridium)

The pop-addicted drummer nuzzled up to Rosemary Clooney a few years ago, so we know sweet ballads are in his wheel-house. But Kurt Knuffke’s aching trumpet tone on Sasha Fierce’s “If I Were a Boy” had all the heartbreak and bravado of the hit. Time for a video. And maybe a medley with Eartha Kitt’s “If I Was a Boy.”

3. Russ Lossing and John Hebert’s Telepathy Class (Korzo)

The pianist was a +1 guest of Michael Attias’ Renku outfit on a rainy Brooklyn evening, and his percussive maneuvers (both inside and outside the piano) had a unmistakable connection to the bassist on his left. One fillip would lead to another, and desconstructions of standards such as “Sweet and Lovely” were saturated with a Morse Code of exchanges by these two. Be sure to hear ‘em stroll through “Pitter Panther Patter.”

4. Wallace Roney’s Power Ballads (Jazz Standard)

The volume was up and the vulnerability was front and center. The trumpeter ain’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, even if all those chops make his sobs seem more like forlorn pronouncements. It’s an odd and fetching balance, especially has evidenced on his band’s essay of “If Only For One Night.” Somewhere over his shoulder the Maids of Cadiz had tears in their eyes, too.

5. Getz & Barron Solve a Red Light Snarl on Hoyt & Atlantic (Downtown Brooklyn)

Suffering through traffic nonsense while doing errands is one of the day’s low points. But as some jamoke was blocking the box, Stan and Kenny rolled through “Surrey With a Fringe On Top” from Sunnyside’s complete People Time box. All of a sudden the steam coming from my ears had a eucalyptus vibe, chicks, ducks and geese scurried out of the way,  and a wave of pleasure music reigned supreme. Ain’t no finer rig, I’m a-thinking.