Matt Wilson: Have Drums, Will Travel
MW: It was a long timeespecially with this day and age, that's a long time for anybody to tour. I mean, that was, like, unprecedented for Joe and Johnny; well, Johnny is out a lot. But it's a lotand I learned so much from that. I learned about energy and lift, and so on. The other night, I'm sitting downstairs at the Stone while other people improvise. I'm just sitting there. I have never met Thurston Moore, I'm a big Sonic Youth fan, and I am thinking, "Wow, I am sitting here talking with Thurston Moore!" We were talking about Albert Ayler! I love the stories, and that's another thing is, you get around these cool folks; you get to hear their stories.
AAJ: Whom did you come up with as contemporaries?
MW: Andy D'Angelo, John Carlson, Curtis Hasselbring. I don't see some of those guys as consistently as I would like. David Berkman. Dave Douglas lived in the same neighborhood. Jeff Lederer has been part of my life for a long time. Joel Frahm I met in the first couple of months I was here, and we still play a lot. Frank Kimbrough, Ben Allison, Michael Blake, Ted Nash, Wycliffe Gordon and Marcus Printup.
And then there were people that I always wanted to play with that were that generation above, so people like Mark Dresser and Ray Anderson and Marty Ehrlich. When I was living in Boston, these guys were a part of the new thing, and now they are friends. Adam Nussbaum, and then people on the West Coast like John Clayton and Jeff Clayton who I admired for a long time. You come up through admiring these people, and then you are a part of their world, but, man, to have Buster Williams be like what you consider one of your friendsit's like, "Wow." I remember one day we were traveling, and we were looking at coats or something together, and I am, like, "This is cool, man." Or one time I was on stage with Charlie Haden, a Trio concert with Charlie and Dewey Redman in Montreal, and I actually laid out for a second just to listen to those guys, and I actually reached down and grabbed my legs to say, "I am really here." I am not being melodramatic about it but it was, "Wow, I am really here. This is pretty cool."
AAJ: Dewey bridges a lot of worlds.
MW: Well, see, there again, I came from this tree of people that did a lot of that.
AAJ: So it was never not possible?
MW: That's right, and growing up, I had to play a lot of different kinds of music just to get to play a lot. If I said, "I am only going to play jazz," well there wasn't going to be too much playing in Galesburg and Knoxville, and then maybe not even in Wichita. So luckily I learned, and I played with my blues bands, played in country bands, I played in rockabilly bands.
AAJ: Tell me a little bit about your involvement with WeeBop, how that started and why that is important to you.
MW: Well, the WeeBop projectI mean, I have done a lot of education stuff for Jazz at Lincoln Center. It started with doing the Jazz in the Schools programs. I have done two tours of those where we went around New York City public schools. One was a program called "Jazz: Music That Happens Now, In the Moment," and we did them all over the place. It was great. Then a couple of years ago, my good friend Erika Floreskawho was, at the time, the Director of Education at Jazz Lincoln Centerasked me to do a young people's concertit would have been in June of 2010, I believecalled "What is Free Jazz," and we did that. It was really great. That was with the quartet, and Marshall Allen from Sun Ra Band was our guest. This guy is 86 years oldnow he's 87, I think; he might even be 88. Man, what an energy, what a vibe. He is so welcoming, so beautiful, so great with the kids, so great with us, so great with everybody, and so we did that one. I am doing one in Februarywith Arts & Crafts, called "What is Improvisation?"that we are currently putting together, which I think will be a blockbuster. I think it is going to be really great. For WeeBop, they wanted to do a record to surround the classes, though I had no involvement with the classes, per se. They wanted me to be involved with the musical directing of the record and production. I went to the meetings, and we had ideas. We threw them around and thenwith Samantha Samuels, who is one of the producers, and Jeff Ledererwe put together a really great record. I think it is really happening.
I call it a family record because I think very small kids will dig it and older kids will dig it and adults will, too. It is kind of like watching Shrek or when we see a really great Sesame Street episode. I still am fascinated by those shows because they draw everybody in; everybody gets something. I think that is what we have accomplished with this record.