Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Matt Wilson Band Plus Strings: Live

Iridium, New York City on May 20, 2010

Matt Wilson by Jimmy Katz
Matt Wilson

Over the past 15 years or so that he has been gigging around New York as a drummer and bandleader, Matt Wilson has never failed to bring an element of surprise and unabashed joy to the bandstand, along with an irrepressible, goofy smile that always conveys to the audience that he is indeed having big-time fun up there on stage. A serious artist with a wacky sense of humor, Wilson respects the jazz tradition and pays sincere homage to its elders. And yet, he is not above placing wind-up toys on his snare or blowing little plastic horns or slide whistles (no doubt borrowed from one of his triplet boys – Henry, Max, Ethan — or his daughter Audrey) when the irreverent mood strikes.

Just back from a tour of Australia, where he played wide open trio gigs in the spirit of Sonny Rollins’ pianoless trio recordings from 1957 (Way Out West, A Night at the Village Vanguard) with bassist John Hebert and tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger, Wilson unveiled an expanded edition of his group comprised of his working quartet (Jeff Lederer on tenor sax and clarinet, Kurt Knuffke on cornet, Chris Lightcap on bass) and augmented by a flexible string quartet featuring his wife Felicia Wilson on violin, Skye Steele on violin, Nicole Federici on viola and Alisa Horn on cello. This inspired marriage of freewheeling jazz and chamber-like precision – Igor Stavinsky meets Ornette Coleman — made for one of the more exhilarating and rewarding performances that I have attended this year. And there were plenty of surprises along the way.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published