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Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson

Within 15 minutes of entering drummer Matt Wilson’s home, I was outfitted in a purple shawl and had a tutu on my head. My fashion consultant was six-year-old Audrey Wilson, one of four irrepressible siblings. Henry, Max and Ethan are triplets, age three; Henry and Max are identical. (There are also two cats, Alfred and Daisy.) At one point Audrey struck up the can-can, and Ethan, not to be outdone, responded with his own idiosyncratic version. “I want to approach music with the same innocent playfulness I see in my children,” states Wilson in the liner notes to his new Palmetto release, Wake Up! (To What’s Happening). Playfulness is indeed the rule in the Wilson household. But Matt can crack the whip when he needs to, and one could draw parallels to his music. Underlying all his horseplay, at home and on the bandstand, is a sense of discipline and often a sober expressive intent.

The 40-year-old drummer’s lovely Colonial on Long Island (Baldwin, N.Y.) is a recent acquisition. Prior to moving here in April 2003, Wilson and the family lived in Oceanside, a bit farther from New York City. “I can get to the Jazz Standard [club] from here in 30 to 35 minutes,” Wilson says, digging into spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce. He and Felicia, his wife of 17 years, began their journey in Boston; Wilson did a fondly remembered stint with the Either/Orchestra while Felicia, a violinist, earned her masters at the New England Conservatory (she now teaches orchestra in nearby Long Beach). They resettled in Brooklyn in 1992 but moved to Queens to avoid daily drives on the notorious Belt Parkway. “You’re really tossing the dice whenever you get on that road,” Wilson says.

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