Monday, February 10, 2014

Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski - Gathering Call (Palmetto Records, 2014)

If anyone ever tells you that jazz is too difficult or abstract for them, this is the perfect antidote. Drummer Matt Wilson has made a career out of making exciting and accessible music. To this end, his quartet, consisting of Jeff Lederer on tenor and soprano saxophone plus clarinet, Kirk Knuffke on cornet, Chris Lightcap on bass and John Medeski on piano swing for the fences. To his great credit, Medeski melds himself seamlessly into the band and any notions of this being a “special guest” type album are quickly swept aside. ”Main Stem”opens the album with an up-tempo pace aided by nice ebullient saxophone and trumpet over snappy drums. Choppy then happily swinging drums usher in “Some Assembly Required” with trumpet to the forefront. Lederer’s saxophone breaks in for a fast solo over percussive piano, then Medeski assimilates this into his own fractured piano solo. Then Knuffke’s cornet comes in encouraging the whole band to move ever faster. “Get Over, Get Off And Get On” begins at a medium-up tempo with Lederer’s saxophone swaggering in before Medeski takes a wonderful piano solo, bright, clear and beautiful. listening to his playing on this song it is easy to see why he was invited to join this project. Wilson is a joy to hear as always, swinging hard and totally locked in with the band. Not to be outdone, Lederer comes back with a climactic clarion call to end the performance. Rollicking drums and powerful horns muscle through “Gathering Call” this short and exciting performance, similar to the shorter bursts of music are interspersed between the longer pieces. an example of this is “Dreamscape,” this short free interlude for clattering drums and leaping and loping horns. “If I Were a Boy” and “Juanita” round out the album is fine fashion, with excellent interplay and soloing. Gathering Call -

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