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

Eric J. Iannelli By

Sign in to view read count
Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts: Wake Up! (To What's Happening) Wake Up! (To What's Happening) is drummer Matt Wilson's first album after realizing, thanks to the unintentional example set by his children, that he'd been going about things all wrong. Well, not wrong, exactly—just differently.

"The more I play improvised music," he writes in the closest thing to an explanatory preface, "the less I want to understand it." For years he has taken what he views as a deliberate approach to music-making (though still one that won him substantial critical acclaim, not to mention Number One Rising Star Drummer of 2004 in the annual Downbeat poll); now he just wants to play freely and from the heart. Ironically, this willful reversion to a more impulsive and unsophisticated creative ethos could itself be interpreted as a heady philosophical exercise, pace Nietzsche, who advised us to approach life first with the capacity for burden and travel of a camel, then with the cunning and ferocity of a lion, and finally with the innocent inquisitiveness of a child.

Whatever the justification—highbrow, lowbrow or just plain old Emersonian whim— Wake Up! has an unmistakable air of carefree jubilancy about it, like a man who's finally able to dance after his cast has been removed. The album features a careful balance of subdued tracks, such as Jaki Byard's "Aluminum Baby," an interesting take on "Silence" by Charlie Haden, and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Luiza"; but these might simply be considered islands of necessary respite amid the festivities. Even the closing "Meditative Reprise" of the fourth track, Tony Williams' "There Comes a Time" (on which guest vocalist Curtis Stigers urges us to take the album's title to heart), suggests the mood after a party when the guests have gone, the mess has yet to be cleaned, and the host takes a few quiet moments to reflect on everything that's happened.

For this followup to Arts & Crafts' eponymous disc from 2001, the bandleader has reunited to a man the Matt Wilson quartet that isn't the Matt Wilson Quartet. And to great effect. Wilson's original chart "Free Range Chicken" is a zany, soulful tune, albeit one that has a few bars eerily in common with "That's All" by Genesis. Larry Goldings churns out some spectacularly tasty grooves on his B3. Thus is this free-range chicken fried. Goldings' "Sticky Mack," while relatively brief, features some fine solos; Wilson keeps a steady beat that never seems to sustain the same pattern for longer than three seconds. Bassist Dennis Irwin switches to clarinet for the traditional "Cuban Carnival Song," the album's zesty crowd-pleaser.

It would be easy to mistake the amusement, popular appeal and delight on Wake Up! for celebratory party jazz, if such a genre exists. But the music here is manifestly more than that; the performers just prefer to exercise their respective talents in subtle ways. Wilson's mild awakening has produced some excellent results indeed.

Track Listing: 1. Sticky Mack (3:44); 2. Free Range Chicken (5:48); 3. Aluminum Baby (6:35); 4. There Comes a Time (7:16); 5. Luiza (5:44); 6. Cuban Carnival Song (2:39); 7. Silence (4:28); 8. We'll Be Together Again (5: 04); 9. Fast Edd (5:30); 10. There Comes a Time (Meditative Reprise) (4:27)

Personnel: Matt Wilson (drums, percussion, chimes, univox, handbell); Terrell Stafford (trumpet, fl

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Palmetto Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Kronix" CD/LP/Track Review Kronix
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 27, 2016
Read "Contrasts" CD/LP/Track Review Contrasts
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 30, 2016
Read "Hawniyaz" CD/LP/Track Review Hawniyaz
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "Cantos Invisíveis" CD/LP/Track Review Cantos Invisíveis
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Groove Legacy" CD/LP/Track Review Groove Legacy
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!