Tag Archives: matt wilson

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.

Jazz Goes To College

Don’t believe the naysayers: Academia isn’t antithetical to artistic expression— developing technique and studying theory helps nurture a performer’s eloquence. Boston’s NEC has been sending well-schooled improvisers to New York for decades, and for the last few days, teachers and students have taken over clubland. From pianist Anthony Coleman and saxophonist Jeremy Udden at Cornelia Street last week to the McNeil/McHenry squad at Cornelia Street Cafe on Friday night, the action is thick. The must-see gigs include the coolest faculty meeting ever (McNeil, McBee, Garzone, Hart, Carlberg) and a multi-artist bash with a cast that stretches from Ran Blake to Joe Morris to Jason Moran to Matthew Shipp. Don’t forget the nod to big band theorist George Russell. Here’s the full schedule and venues list.

Carrots Galore: Matt Wilson’s Juicy Jive

I knew he was nuts when I first met him. He was putting individual treats under the seats of audience members – a little “thanks for coming out” gesture. Then he invited Ned Sublette to do the auctioneer shtick on Going Once, Going Twice. Then he wrote “School Boy Punk.” Then he sanctioned my loony tunes liner notes for the wondrous Smile. Then he let me narrate “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” at Detour. Then, as you see above, he jammed with a juicer.

Matt Wilson‘s new That’s Gonna Leave a Mark is a pip. With the yin-yang buzz of saxophonists Andrew D’Angelo and Jeff Lederer out front, and the loose-limbed drive of bassist Chris Lightcap and Wilson in the rear, the music crackles, crackles, crackles. Maybe not as much as that carrot.

New Yorkers should know that MWQ is playing at the Jazz Standard on Sept 22 – 23. Here’s the Voice Choice.