Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts swings in a collective manner with a comfortable fit that speaks from the jazz tradition, while driving with soulful authority. Trumpeter Terell Stafford gives Wilson an eloquent lyrical voice that he backs with propulsive rhythms. Pianist and organist Gary Versace gives this powerful quartet its various moods, which bassist Dennis Irwin complements with a lyrical rhythmic foundation.
The organ sound lends a soulful texture to much of the album, while Versace's piano carries on the tradition of acoustic straight-ahead jazz. Wilson's four original pieces embark on a contemporary journey that reveals the heart and soul of his organization. Much of the program features fluid communication between Wilson and his quartet members, allowing them to express themselves from deep within.
Everybody solos and everybody shares the joy of drawing from a lovely melody. Irwin plays a clarinet duet with Stafford's open horn to introduce Albert Ayler's "Our Prayer," and Versace adds accordion to finish the piece. Harmonic background vocals from The Swaylettes add "scenic" variety to "Feel the Sway" and "Give Peace a Chance."
Track Listing: The Scenic Route; We See; 25 Years of Rootabagas; Feel the Sway; Rejoicing; The Bat; In Touch with Dewey; Little B's Poem; Tenderly; Our Prayer/Give Peace a Chance.
Personnel: Matt Wilson: drums, percussion, vocals; Terell Stafford: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gary Versace: piano, organ, accordion; Dennis Irwin: double bass, clarinet; Karlie Bruce, Ayana Del Valle, Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen: vocals.