Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts – The Scenic Route – Palmetto

by | Sep 12, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts – The Scenic Route – Palmetto 2122,  56:56

(Matt Wilson, drums; Terell Stafford, trumpet & flugelhorn; Gary
Versace, B-3 organ & piano; Dennis Irwin, bass)

Matt Wilson is a special drummer. His versatility is well known and rather
unique, in that he is comfortable playing both inside and out.  He is the
drummer for Charlie Haden’s latest version of The Liberation Music
Orchestra, as well as being a first call drummer for sessions in the Big
Apple, where he resides in Queens.  He can be in an avant garde session in
Harlem, and then be drumming in an upscale club in Manhattan the next
night. He shares his talents with lesser-known musicians such as Portland’s Dan
Balmer, on Balmer’s recent release. That connection was made through
Wilson’s band mate, Gary Versace. In addition to all this activity, Wilson
finds time to lead his own band, Arts and Craft.

For The Scenic Route, Wilson is in his mainstream bag, and this session is
a hard-charging soulful bebop affair.  It features one of today’s
greatest trumpeters, Terell Stafford, whose power, drive and magnetism on
the horn puts him in the extreme upper echelon of present day brass men..
On this CD, Stafford lights up his solos, and Versace’s greasy organ fills
bring to mind the best of 1960s Blue Note recordings.  Bass player, Dennis
Irwin, is as usual right in the pocket. The unidentified Swayettes provide
background vocals, which are used judiciously to spike up the proceedings.

The swing begins in earnest with the title cut, and Stafford matches
Versace in the grease quotient with some great muted work.  Versace throws
in some spacey lines that Wilson answers.  We See features Stafford on top
of Monk’s melody, and Irwin’s bass is ever present. Versace gets in his
Monkisms as well.

Wilson’s soulful 25 Years of Rootabagas, has a churchified New Orleans
vibe provided by Stafford and Versace. Feel the Sway follows and is another
knockout.  Rejoicing is next and ups the ante by skirting the outside edge.
Versace’s piano talent drives this tune as does Wilson’s stick work.

Pat Metheny’s lovely The Bat slows down the proceedings and again
Stafford has some beautiful lyrical trumpet lines, matched by Versace’s
Hammond B-3. Perhaps the track that most approaches the avant is Wilson’s
tribute to Dewey Redman, In Touch With Dewey. This CD concludes with three
more lyrical selections, Bobby Hutcherson’s Little B’s Poem, and Tenderly,
a classic for Stafford. Closing out The Scenic Route is Our Prayer/Give
Peace a Chance
, a combination of Albert Ayler, and Lennon and McCartney,
and would be right at home in Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra.
I can’t recommend this CD highly enough!

TrackList: 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

– Jeff Krow 

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