Posts Tagged ‘Matt Wilson’

New York @ Night: January 2013

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Happy New Year again! From the January 2013 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

As a student of Lennie Tristano and a noted colleague of Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, tenor saxophonist Ted Brown provides a living link to the Tristano school — an intriguing area in jazz history, somewhere in the interstices between bop and “cool.” Brown turned 85 the day before his gig at the Drawing Room (Dec. 2), so he arrived ready to celebrate in his calm and imperturbable way. His co-leader for the first set was Brad Linde, a young DC-based tenorist and Brown disciple, who played with distinction on Brown’s “Smog Eyes” and Tristano’s “317 East 32nd Street,” not to mention the standards “Broadway” and “My Melancholy Baby.” Pianist Michael Kanan, who runs the Drawing Room as a rehearsal space and concert venue, joined the band and juiced up the harmony, adding his own inventive spark. After a break, attention turned to Brown with cornetist Kirk Knuffke, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Matt Wilson. Harmony was king in this quartet, even with no piano: Knuffke and Brown snaked their way through the changes of “Featherbed” (based on “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”) and applied the Tristano logic in minor keys (“Jazz of Two Cities”) and waltz time (“Dig-It”), all from their new SteepleChase disc Pound Cake. Knuffke had a way of dancing into his melodies, as if striving to embody each phrase physically. Brown played his trickiest heads without a flaw, and his solos, while not as agile as way back in the day, were stamped with pure individuality. (David R. Adler)


Though it entailed gathering musicians from various parts of the globe, Canadian clarinet master François Houle did the right thing by playing ShapeShifter Lab (Dec. 2) with the exact lineup from his brilliant Songlines release Genera. The frontline of Houle, trombonist Samuel Blaser and cornetist/flugelhornist Taylor Ho Bynum allowed for endless color mutations and finely rendered written parts. Benoît Delbecq kept a fairly low profile on piano and prepared piano, but he endowed the music with a wealth of harmonic and percussive twists. Bassist Michael Bates and drummer Harris Eisenstadt pointed the way from the airiest rubato abstraction to driving, meticulously placed rhythms. The set began slow, with the dark lyricism of “Le concombre de Chicoutimi,” but Houle was thinking in terms of a long medley: Bates soon segued to the uptempo line of “Essay No. 7,” then joined Eisenstadt for a bass/drums interlude that brought the band into the emphatic, slow-grooving “Guanara.” Houle was blowing two clarinets at once by the time the medley was finished. On the swing-based “Albatros” he played through half a clarinet, connecting his mouthpiece directly to the lower joint. That is the essence of Houle’s approach: wildly unstable, expressionistic elements vie with straightforward and undeniable virtuosity. The dueling plunger shouts of Bynum and Blaser on “Mu-Turn Revisited” offered another vivid example. (DA)

New York @ Night: April 2012

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

From the April 2012 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

Drawing on material from his superb new Palmetto disc An Attitude for Gratitude, drummer Matt Wilson fronted his Arts and Crafts quartet in an inspired late Saturday set at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (March 3). Wilson is a funnyman in the finest Gillespie tradition, but watching him harness the talents of trumpeter Terell Stafford, organist/pianist Gary Versace and bassist Martin Wind is a vivid reminder: this is a musician of rigorous intent, full of playfulness and positive energy but also jaw-dropping skill. Stafford and Versace were hand-in-glove from the first choruses of Nat Adderley’s “Little Boy with the Sad Eyes,” an introductory blast of roadhouse organ swing, which was followed by John Scofield’s lilting calypso-ish number “You Bet.” Versace moved to acoustic piano (and Stafford to flugelhorn) for the moody Nelson Cavaquinho ballad “Beija Flor,” a nice moment for the lyrical Wind, who took the first solo. Not content with just two instruments, Versace took up accordion for “Stolen Time,” the most abstract piece of the set, but returned to piano as guest vocalist Kurt Elling began a scathing scat rendition of “Straight, No Chaser.” Midnight had come and gone, the jam session vibe fully took hold, and these players stretched the blues as far as they could. But the same spirit of creativity and effortless connection guided the rehearsed tunes as well. Ornette Coleman’s “Rejoicing” was the cherry on top, a concise and light-speed treat to close the set. (David R. Adler)


Gearing up for a mid-April double bill at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks brought spark to their weekly gig at Sofia’s Restaurant (March 5). This band’s bag is well known: readings of vintage arrangements from the ’20s through the ’40s, faithful down to the smallest period detail. The music is astounding, and when liberties are taken, Giordano will say so — once he’s done sprinting from the bass to the tuba to the bass saxophone, laying down the zingy two-beat feel that keeps the Sofia’s dance floor full. Inevitably, the Nighthawks capture that age-old tension between pop entertainment and high art, moving from the occasional light waltz or perennial such as “Cheek to Cheek” to more substantial and absorbing fare: Ellington’s “Cotton Club Stomp” and “Old Man Blues,” King Oliver’s “I Must Have It,” the Luis Russell band’s “Singing Pretty Songs,” Jimmie Lunceford’s first-ever recording “Sweet Rhythm” (1930), or John Nesbitt’s pathbreaking arrangement of “Peggy” for McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. Trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso was the pivotal soloist, but trombonist Jim Fryer and reedists Dan Block, Dan Levinson and Mark Lopeman killed it as well. Clarinet megaphones, celeste, phono-fiddle, a 1912 euphonium, two numbers with 89-year-old guest clarinetist Sol Yaged: this was the real old-school deal, not fruitless nostalgia but genuine scholarship in sound. It’s a discipline that can’t be allowed to fade away. (DA)

Six Picks: February 2012

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, February 2012:

Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Rooms, Spacer (Delmark)

David Budway, A New Kiss (MaxJazz)

Benoît Delbecq & François Houle, Because She Hoped (Songlines)

Guilhem Flouzat, One Way… (ind.)

Tineke Postma, The Dawn of Light (Challenge)

Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts, An Attitude for Gratitude (Palmetto)