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Matt Wilson Arts and Crafts: Wake Up! (To What’s Happening)

Matt Wilson is a very busy drummer, working both as a leader and as a sideman. The scope of his activities is reflected in the variety of styles presented on Wake Up! (To What’s Happening), the second disc by his Arts & Crafts quartet, which also includes organist Larry Goldings, trumpeter Terell Stafford and bassist Dennis Irwin. It takes quite a sense of adventure to take on music ranging from pieces by drumming luminary Tony Williams to Antonio Carlos Jobim (“Luiza”) to Cuban carnival music.

Vocalist Curtis Stigers helps the group turn out Williams’ “There Comes the Time,” and keyboardist Larry Goldings recalls organist Larry Young by using the Hammond organ as a rhythmic instrument and a tool for sonic exploration. Wilson propels the song into a sort of controlled frenzy, but he does so without coming off as a Tony Williams mimic.

Wilson, on chimes, plays the melody that opens “Cuban Carnival Song,” a tune that Afro-Cuban aficionados will recognize as “Los Dandys,” allegedly written by Chano Pozo before he moved to the U.S. and became a star with Dizzy Gillespie. Irwin doubles on clarinet in this tune and, with Stafford bopping alongside him, create a bouncing spirit. But the CD’s emotional centerpiece is the band’s beautiful, open take on Charlie Haden’s haunting “Silence.”

On Wake Up!, Wilson and his band pull off fascinating improvisations with pure, unfiltered emotion.

Originally Published