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Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts: Wake Up! (To What's Happening) (2004)

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Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts: Wake Up! (To What's Happening) No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

"Arts & Crafts" is the perfect name for versatile drummer Matt Wilson's band for this session. For the music they make is indeed an art—and it involves much musical craft. And then there's the title of this, the band's second recording. A title like Wake Up! (To What's Happening) could lead one to guess that Wilson is referring to society's current agenda. Or whether he is speaking to the need to learn from the children around us. The Wilson family now boasts a daughter and triplet sons—who have reminded Matt of the need to approach music with a child's innocent playfulness, enthusiasm and sense of discovery.

The result is a freewheeling straight ahead session teaming Wilson with trumpeter Terell Stafford, pianist/organist Larry Goldings, and bassist Dennis Irwin. Singer Curtis Stigers stops by to add the lyrics to the first of two versions of Tony Williams' "There Comes a Time" (to wake up to what's happening.) Yes, over Stafford's blistering horn and Goldings' organ groove, Stigers answers the title riddle.

This session is ambitious, though not as zany as that produced by Wilson's regular quartet. One of the treats is the seamless melding and overlapping of playful energies, notes and ideas by the full band—but Goldings and Stafford in particular.

My personal favorite is their take on Wilson's own "Free Range Chicken," with Irwin and Wilson setting up a resonating cushion for the conversation between Stafford's growling horn and Goldings' sly B3 effects. The laid-back and pensive "Aluminum Baby"—complete with stop-time pauses—comes from the Jaki Byard songbook, while a similar mood lingers over Jobim's "Luiza" composition. The mournful Charlie Haden Liberation Music piece "Silence" gets a contrasting keyboard voice from Goldings. Wilson's enthusiastic drumming is in the front pocket on "Cuban Carnival Song"—a traditional public domain number on which we get to hear Irwin on clarinet. A swinging, swaggering take on "We'll Be Together Again" is among more treats to discover here. So take a keen listen.

Track Listing: 1 Sticky Mack 3:44 2 Free Range Chicken 5:49 3 Aluminum Baby 6:34 4 There Comes a Time 7:17 5 Luiza 5:44 6 Cuban Carnival Song 2:38 7 Silence 4:27 8 We'll Be Together Again 5:06 9 Fast Edd 5:31 10 There Comes a Time (Meditative Reprise) 4:23

Personnel: Larry Goldings: Organ, Piano; Dennis Irwin: Bass, Clarinet; Terell Stafford: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Curtis Stigers: Vocals; Matt Wilson: Drums.

Record Label: Palmetto Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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