JazzNights is a series of house concerts begun in 2002 by Mary Wisnovsky and Maitland Jones. Over the years, we have hosted some of the best jazz musicians in the world. We would be pleased to have you join us; just browse the website and contact us if you are interested. Reservations by email to: mary@wisnovsky.net or mjjr@princeton.edu.


JazzNights 86
January 21, 2018, 4 pm
Ingrid Jensen Quintet
Ingrid Jensen (tp) Jon Wikan (d), Martin Wind (b),
Steve Tressler (ts), Gary Versace (p)

But First:

JazzNights in Brooklyn (4)

December 17, 2017, 4 pm

Matt Wilson's Christmas TREE-O
Matt Wilson (d), Paul Sikivie (b), Jeff Lederer (reeds)

This December17th, JazzNights in Brooklyn will present Matt Wilson’s Christmas TREE-O. The event will take place at 4 pm, at 192 Bergen St. We are asking for a $40 donation, all of which will go to the musicians. For reservations or more information, please contact Mait Jones (not Mary for this one) at mjjr@princeton.edu.


Drummer, composer, and bandleader Matt Wilson has played on over 200 recordings and has toured throughout the world. He was named Jazz Drummer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2003 and was voted Rising Star Drummer in the Downbeat International Critics Poll as well as gaining mentions in the Jazz Artist and Composer categories. There is no drummer - perhaps no musician - more widely prominent on the New York and international scenes today. Mr. Wilson's range extends from thoughtful accompanist, often of singers - a great sign - to leader of the Matt Wilson Quartet (MWQ), a group second to none in extroverted vigor. Mr. Wilson is an especially musical percussionist. Perhaps that quality comes from his earliest experience with drums - the third grade - when his saved-up-for Ludwig 9a sticks had nothing to play on but pots and pans. He also mentions JC Combs' percussion class at Wichita State in which:


"We played percussion works featuring a wide array of strange components. Pinball machines, cloggers, bowlers and professional wrestlers all were standard fare."


Boston and New York followed Kansas, and soon he was playing with Fred Hersch, Ingrid Jensen, Cecil McBee, Dewey Redman and, Frank Kimbrough. He has formed several influential small groups, including his MWQ. The quartet's 2009 CD "That's Gonna Leave a Mark" gives a good idea of what you'll hear, although in person the intensity level definitely goes up. I caught the group at the Jazz Standard in 2009. The music was powerful and wide-ranging. They opened with Andrew’s Ditty – as intense a tune as you’ll ever hear with Andrew D’Angelo’s way uptempo shrieks, howls, and screes leading into a pair of solos by Jeff Lederer on tenor and Chris Lightcap on bass, and finally to superb ensemble improvisation. My notes go on to describe Rear Control, one of the tunes on “That’s Gonna Leave a Mark,” as “Tom Waits meets Raymond Scott.” But next came a hymn-like Come and Find the Quiet Center, which sounded almost like Charlie Haden at his most ruminative. Mr. Wilson’s drums propelled and illuminated throughout the evening, which I thought was one of the best things I heard all year. Much of the variety and intensity comes through on their excellent CD, but it can’t really match the live performance.


The “Christmas “TREE-O” features Jeff Lederer from the MWQ and Paul Sikivie on bass. They have fine a 2010 CD on Palmetto, and I heard them live at The Kitano that December. The CD is very good, but the live performances are something else. Suffice it to say that this is not a collection of your grandmother’s holiday tunes. Well, I guess they are the same tunes, but granny never heard them played this way.  They make it work precisely because their imaginations and senses of humor are given free play here. My notes from December 2010 describe Jeff Lederer’s solo on “Little Drummer Boy” as “abstract, really raunchy – just excellent.” “Little Drummer Boy” and “raunchy” seldom co-exist, I suspect, but they sure do here.


Here’s a nice summation of Mr. Wilson’s bandleader philosophy. It comes from a cover interview (with Lewis Nash and Jeff “Tain” Watts) in November 2009’s Downbeat. 


“If you can allow somebody to go some place and you’re not controlling it, that’s great. ...I don’t have to say anything to them. They know how to play their instrument. You trust them. Dewey [Redman] used to say, “Find people you love to play with and pick the music. A great band just seems to go.” 


And Matt Wilson’s groups do just that.


The TREE-O will be at the Jazz Standard in NYC this December, and it’s well worth finding them, but you don’t really have to go that far – because they’ll be in Brooklyn December 17!



Matt Wilson’s Christmas TREE-O, Palmetto, 2010, Wilson, Lederer, Sikivie


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