A drummer whose creativity, drive, dedication and infectious joy have garnered him high honors from fellow musicians and critics alike, Matt Wilson is also a perspicacious and activist bandleader. The Matt Wilson Quartetalto and tenor saxophones doubling clarinets, bass and drumsis raucous, rambunctious and high energy. Among piano-less quartets, it's more in the tradition of Ornette Coleman
, Max Roach
and Charles Mingus
than Gerry Mulligan
or Gary Burton
The similarities with Coleman's two-sax quartet that paired him with Dewey Redman's tenor, in whose own quartet Wilson played for over a decade, are palpable on tunes with a post-bop vibe like "Shooshabuster" and the out title track, which pair Andrew D’Angelo
's alto (more than a little indebted stylistically to Coleman and Eric Dolphy
) and Jeff Lederer's tenor. But Wilson also prizes an eclectic and at times proletarian vision that encompasses the classic bop of "Two Bass Hit," with a drum solo inspired by Philly Joe Jones, and the '70s soul-rock anthem from War, "Why Can't We Be Friends?," a track adding female and child voices to make the title message clear.
It also embraces the spirituality of the traditional hymn "Come and Find the Quiet Center," one of the few quiet moments on this CD, as well the Mingus-like accelerations, decelerations and quirky rhythm change-ups of "Rear Control," D'Angelo's composition featuring bass clarinet and clarinet interweaving in a jaunty tune with broad Raymond Scott cartoon theme gestures. Lederer, with the help of 12 notes chosen by his daughter Maya, contributes another two-clarinet track, "Lucky," while bassist Chris Lightcap
is represented by his Ornette-ish "Celibate Oriole." Throughout, Wilson leads the charge, creating myriad driving, shifting rhythms and timbres, especially with his unique attack on drum heads and rims.
Personnel: Matt Wilson: drums; Andrew D'Angelo: alto sax, bass clarinet; Jeff Lederer: tenor sax; Chris Lightcap: bass.