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Matt Wilson Quartet: Smile

Drummer-composer Matt Wilson is a jovial fellow, both on and off the bandstand. A keen listener with audacious instincts, he can swing convincingly in a pure jazzbo context, as on a blazing version of Trane’s “Grand Central” here or a more relaxed rendition of Monk’s “Boo Boo’s Birthday.” But he also has a mischievous penchant for irony and juxtaposition, which came across on the raucous “School Boy Thug” from last year’s Going Once, Going Twice and on at least a few cuts from this third project as a leader, including “Wooden Eye,” the angular backbeat number “Big Butt,” the freeblowing “Go Team Go!,” an explosive showcase for Matt’s abandon on the kit, and a tongue-in-cheek take on the Dixieland nugget, “I’ve Found a New Baby.”

Wilson’s interest in experimenting with subtle colors and textures on the kit is brilliantly demonstrated on “A Dusting of Snow,” an ethereal soundscape in which he uses both brushes and chains on the snare. A sucker for melody, he also shows a highly romantic side on a gorgeous, rubato rendition of the Sinatra anthem, “Strangers in the Night,” another example of his Paul Motian-influenced approach to brushes.

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