Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski – Gathering Call [TrackList follows] – Palmetto Records, 54:56 ***½:
(Jeff Lederer – tenor & soprano saxophones, clarinet; Kirk Knuffke – cornet; Chris Lightcap – bass; Matt Wilson – drums; John Medeski – piano)
Among the various definitions for the word ‘exuberant’, the one that is most applicable to Matt Wilson is “characterized by a lively energy and excitement”. With the release of Gathering Call, Wilson and his cohorts demonstrate that they know and relate to this concept.
Although the outing is not completely successful, there are flashes of interest and in these cases, the music comes through with verve, and provides pulsing and harmonic tautness. Most of the recorded material is by Matt Wilson (six out of thirteen tracks) and with a couple of exceptions suffers by comparison to the other compositions. For example, there are a couple of Duke Ellington tunes (this seems to be de rigueur for practically every jazz release): “Main Stem “and the lesser known “You Dirty Dog”. The former cracks right along with some interesting unison horn playing to start the tune off, and tenor saxophonist Jeff Lederer does his Paul Gonsalves tribute, with pianist John Medeski posing a couple of nice riffs. In the latter, it opens with pianist Medeski stating his respect for Ellington with some great chording. Trumpeter Kirk Knuffke shows his chops with a long solo stint with Wilson giving support on his ride cymbal. Medeski then comes back in with some Ellington flourishes to take the tune out.
The Hugh Lawson composition “Get Over, Get Off And Get On” has a nice shuffle beat with a blues line that works well with Knuffke’s trumpet proving his salt and although Lederer’s tenor sax does some upper register squealing, he does get back in the groove before too long. The less said about Butch Warren’s “Barack Obama” the better. It has no redeeming social value and does disservice to the President. Wilson shows his mastery of the drum kit on two of his originals, firstly “Some Assembly Required” and latterly on “How Ya Going” even though the composition itself is somewhat oblique and one has to fight through the cacophony to hear what Wilson is up to.
It is clear that a lot of hard work went into putting this session together, regrettably the results do not match the effort.
TrackList: Main Stem; Some Assembly Required; Dancing Waters; Get Over, Get Off And Get On; Barack Obama; Gathering Call; You Dirty Dog; Hope ( For The Cause); Dreamscape; How Ya Goin’?;If I Were A Boy; Pumpkin’s Delight; Juanita