Dec 3, 2015
Reknown jazz drummer Matt Wilson brings us on a joyful and adventurous romp through holiday music with his celebrated Christmas Tree-O during their 16 Days of Christmas North American Tour beginning November 30, 2015. You've never really heard “You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” or “The Chipmunk Song” until you have heard them served-up with Christmas Tree-O's elfin sense of humor and dazzling musicianship.
The band features Wilson with
longtime bandmates Jeff Lederer on saxophones and Paul Sikivie on
bass. Reviewing their 2010 Palmetto recording Matt Wilson's
Christmas Tree-O, DownBeat declares the group "provides
Yuletide greetings so eloquent and mind-bending even the nastiest
of Scrooges will want to pay attention."
Behind the humor is a deep grounding in jazz and serious chops. A gifted composer, bandleader, producer and educator, Wilson is renowned for his virtuosic flair as a drummer and his good-vibes positivity as a bandleader, not to mention his facility for collaborating with top musicians across the spectrum of jazz - from the mainstream to the avant-garde and virtually everything in between. When I last saw him onstage, he was pounding the skins in Christian McBride’s Big Band at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, his sheer joy at being a part of that group evident as he soloed.
One of the things I most enjoy about Matt is his ability to play so many different kinds of music with so many different players. He currently leads the Matt Wilson Quartet, the Arts and Crafts group, Christmas Tree-O, and the Carl Sandburg Project. He is also an integral part of Trio M (with pianist Myra Melford and bassist Mark Dresser) and the new trio Sifter (with Kirk Knuffke and guitarist Mary Halvorson), in addition to his myriad sideman gigs, education initiatives and broadcast projects. Two even newer bands, with young New York and Danish musicians are coming in early 2016, along with releasing a new recording in the spring of 2016 to celebrate his 20th anniversary with Palmetto Records. That recording, titled Beginning of a Memory is dedicated to memory of Wilson's wife Felicia, who passed away in 2014.
Podcast 508 is my conversation with Matt, who is always one of the most engaging, outgoing and yet thoughtful interviews in jazz today. We talk about the Tree-) and how they select music for their sets, his various groups, and he reaches back to talk about his time with Thomas Chapin in the Nineties. Musical selections include three pieces from Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O – “O Come O Come Emmanual”, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and (of course) “The Little Drummer Boy” as well as tracks from the Arts and Crafts Band (“Little Boy with the Sad Eyes“), Trio M (“Naïve Art” with Myra Medford and Mark Dresser) and “Lovellevelllloqui“ from a Thomas Chapin Quartet recording found on the compilation Never Let Me Go - Quartets '95 and '96.