Matt Wilson Quartet


Palmetto Records, USA

Andrew d'Angelo, alto saxophone, bass clarinet and handbells; Jeff Lederer, tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet and handbells; Yosuke Inoue, acoustic bass, electric bass and handbells; Matt Wilson, drums, percussion, chimes, uivox, and handbells; On some cuts: Felicia Wilson, violin; John Carlson, trumpet, pocket trumpet; Curtis Hasselbring, trombone

Drummer Matt Wilson has recorded with Andrew Hill, Jane Ira Bloom, Dewey Redman and Buster Williams, and he has a welcome ability to knock down walls of the sort one sees about that are painted curiously like record-store rack dividers. Which is why they were put up, naturally. For example, who knew Indian forms and klezmer weren't third or fourth cousins but something much closer (see "Raga," replete with dizzying handbells by the entire quartet backing up Andrew d'Angelo's hot alto)?

Wilson can back an ensemble with a tight bouncing groove (see how he keeps leaking through the rhythm section's floorboards while Jeff Lederer --on tenor sax-- and d'Angelo interlock and arabesque on the first-up "Thank You Billy Higgins") but can also swarm (play around and through the beat, that is) with the best of them (see "All My Children"), as Higgins did on Ornette Coleman's 1972 release SCIENCE FICTION. Yosuke Inoue plucks the bass with a spare wit here; on the later "Code Yellow" he does a bit of bowing reminiscent of the more muscular Miroslav Vitous in his early Weather Report days. "Swimming In the Trees" has a Zappa-like humor with both Lederer and d'Angelo switching to clarinets and fronting a blurting rear line of guests Curt Hasselbring (trombone), Felicia Wilson (violin) and John Carlson (trumpet). It comes off as some of the more intricate and less sophomoric sections of, say, ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

They swing, too! Another divider that I notice has been flattened here is the tendency of more experimental Jazz bands to keep away from (not disdain', I'm sure, that's too easy) standards: there's a very atmospheric "Don't Blame Me" rearranged by Lederer in such a way that even Charlie Parker might not recognize it, thanks to the "Sanctuary" like build-up and very stream-of-consciousness kit commentary early on by Wilson. Midway through the band come close to the obligatory ballad' feel the traditionalists like but the blues figures in the melody are emphasized (largely thanks to Inoue) to keep it out of any rut. The Tadd Dameron chestnut "Our Delight" is reimagined in a Mingus kind of way, and the closing "Beginning of a Memory" should be a standard 10 minutes from now if it isn't already. Beautiful intimate Wayne Shorter-like phrasing from d'Angelo's alto and lovely commentary by Wilson's violin and Inoue's tart bass bits.

Too many people think "Ornette Coleman, huh" when encountering two horns, bass and drums, but not these instruments and not these players. Always a surprise, no matter how many times you play it; would like to see this quartet hang together, they have something special here.

by Ken Egbert

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