Matt Wilson – Honey And Salt (2017) [Qobuz FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Matt Wilson – Honey And Salt (2017) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:04:12 minutes | 643 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © Palmetto+

New York-based drummer and Grammy nominee Matt Wilson is one of today’s most celebrated jazz artists. He is universally recognized for his musical and melodic drumming style as well as being a gifted composer, bandleader, producer, and teaching artist. His last album “Honey and Salt” is a session that includes both beautifully performed musical settings and readings of Carl Sandburg poems, the latter mostly by musicians such as Christian McBride, Bill Frisell, and Joe Lovano. (One poem is also read by actor Jack Black, an honorary jazz musician given that he is married to one of the daughters of the great bassist Charlie Haden.) Among the unexpected joys of this session is that one hears musicians — who are not members of Wilson’s band — interpret poetry according to the dictates of their spirits and the spirit of the poem he or she chose — or that chose them. Honey and Salt, among other things, is a salute to the power of the voice.

If fellow Illinois natives poet Carl Sandburg and drummer Matt Wilson were to share one quality, it would be the element of surprise. A deeply important, Pulitzer Prize-winning figure in 20th century American verse, Sandburg (who died in 1967 at age 89) wrote about everyday life in an non-rhyming fashion with a wry, whimsical tone. He was also famously a fan of jazz and folk music, and his poems evince a musical, lyrical quality that’s at once intellectually inventive and soulfully plainspoken. Much of the same could be said about Wilson, whose Sandburg tribute, 2017’s Honey and Salt, showcases his playful, inventive jazz that straddles the borders between avant-garde improvisation, ruminative folk, and swinging, bluesy post-bop. Here, Wilson pays homage to Sandburg with a thoughtfully rendered set of songs inspired by and composed around Sandburg’s poems. Joining Wilson is a group of like-minded associates including singer/guitarist Dawn Thomson, cornetist Ron Miles, reedman Jeff Lederer, and bassist Martin Wind. Together, they play with an organic exuberance, turning Sandburg’s poems into songs, many of which feature Thomson’s measured croon. They turn Sandburg’s “Soup” into an earthy blues, “Night Stuff” into a languid, moonlit chamber piece, and “We Must Be Polite” into a roiling New Orleans second-line jam. Other tracks are equally engaging as Wilson highlights the distinctly American quality of both Sandburg’s writing and the sound of jazz and folk music, as on the marching band-esque “Stars, Songs, Faces” and the ambient country twang of “Prairie Barn.” Adding to the album’s playful air of surprise is a handful of well-known guest performers, brought in not to play, but to recite Sandburg’s poems, including bassist Christian McBride, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Carla Bley, and actor Jack Black, among others. Sandburg himself is even featured on “Fog,” his voice culled from a 1968 recording and set against a moody solo drum improvisation by Wilson; a magical duet. Perhaps the most surprising, and enjoyable, aspect of Honey and Salt is just how deftly Wilson has combined his music and Sandburg’s writing, never sacrificing either or limiting the listener’s ability to imbibe both at the same time.

01 – Soup
02 – Anywhere and Everywhere People (Christian McBride, reader)
03 – As Wave Follows Wave (Matt Wilson, reader)
04 – Night Stuff
05 – We Must Be Polite (John Scofield, reader)
06 – Fog (Carl Sandburg, reader)
07 – Choose
08 – Prairie Barn (Jeff Lederer, reader)
09 – Offering and Rebuff
10 – Stars, Songs, Face
11 – Bringers
12 – Snatch of Sliphorn Jazz(Jack Black, Reader)
13 – Paper 2 (Bill Frisell, reader)
14 – Trafficker (Rufus Reid, reader)
15 – Paper 1 (Joe Lovano, reader)
16 – I Sang
17 – To Know Silence Perfectly (Carla Bley, reader)
18 – Daybreak

Matt Wilson – drums, voice
Dawn Thomson – vocals, guitar
Ron Miles – cornet
Jeff Lederer – reeds, harmonium, voice
Martin Wind – acoustic bass, voice