VIDEO: Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts - The Scenic Route
Listen: "Area Man"
Listen: "That's Gonna Leave a
Matt Wilson is a dynamic and adventurous drummer and bandleader
with tremendous versatility and a distinctive style. Wilson has recorded
and toured extensively with his own quartet and the groundbreaking
group Arts & Crafts, showcasing his eclectic musical
tastes and inclusive vision. The Matt Wilson Quartet’s newest
CD, That’s Gonna Leave a Mark, includes original
compositions by Wilson and his bandmates, classics by great jazz
composers, and creative covers of well-known songs from other genres.
Wilson is also a sought-after sideman for artists who run the gamut
form traditional jazz to avant-garde experimentation. His swinging
energy has propelled groups led by Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz, Charlie
Haden, Herbie Nichols, Dena DeRose, and dozens of others, and these
artists’ styles and innovations have augmented Wilson’s
personal sound and broadened his musical horizons. For his Stanford
Jazz Festival performance, Wilson teams up with two sensational young
players—guitarist Julian Lage and bassist Jorge Roeder—as
well as saxophonist/clarinetist Douglas Yates, a Stanford Jazz Workshop
alumnus and Wilson’s colleague from the seminal Either/Orchestra.
“Wilson has emerged as one of the most in-demand and versatile
musicians in jazz, comfortable as a bandleader or as a sideman, at
home in a grassroots touring band playing small venues or performing
at Carnegie Hall.”
What is the first recording you remember hearing as a child?
I had many casts on my left leg as a child. My mom would put toys
around me (she believed that was the reason I play the drum set)
and stack records on the turntable that would drop down after the
other one finished. One of my favorite records (still is) was the
recording of Louis Prima doing “I Wanna Be Like You” from
The Jungle Book. I also loved an old band recording of the “Yellow
Rose of Texas” and especially Roger Miller’s Greatest
Hits, a gift from my aunts.
Who is your favorite jazz musician under the age of 30?
I like Julian Lage, Grace Kelly, Adam Larson and Marcus Gilmore among
many others. Wow, I feel old. (not really)
What job would you have if you weren’t a jazz musician?
An English teacher or a wine maker.
What’s the strangest experience you’ve ever
had on the bandstand?
I got food poisoning in the middle of the first set of making a live
CD with Dena DeRose. I made it though it wasn’t pretty.
What’s your favorite food?
I love a simple marinara sauce on al dente pasta. I also love arugula,
green beans and broccoli rabe. I love Italy!
What’s the most exotic place you’ve traveled
to as a musician?
Terre Haute, Indiana. Maybe Thailand or Columbia or Turkey or South
What’s the last book you’ve read?
Daniel Barenboim’s Music Quickens Time.
If you could play with any other musician, living or dead (with
whom you have not played), who would it be and why?
Duke Ellington. Why? I know we’d have fun together. I also
know it would be a groovy hang. Presently? Ornette Coleman for sure.
What’s your favorite tune?
The one I am playing.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Stanford
Jazz Workshop faculty member?
The fellowship of the folks gathered together by their love and appreciation
of jazz. I love to hang, laugh, hear and tell stories.
What’s your favorite jazz venue?
The Green Mill in Chicago and the Village Vanguard here in New York
Who is your greatest musical influence?
Wow, I love Ornette Coleman but there are so many.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three
recordings with you, what would they be?
Roger Miller’s Greatest Hits, Miles Davis Quintet’s Working,
and Albert Ayler’s Love Cry.
How much do you practice each week?
I like to think of it as quality rather than quantity. Since the
birth of my daughter in ’98 and then especially my triplet
sons in 2001 I have learned to appreciate making use of what little
time I may have to play by myself.
What hobbies do you have?
I like cooking, football, wine, history and poetry.
If you could be any other type of artist other than a jazz musician,
what would you be and why?
A poet or an actor.
Do you have a favorite music-related joke (that can be told
in mixed company!)?
How many trumpet players does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
One to screw it in and three others to say “Oh, I can do that
and I haven’t even warmed up!”
When did you become interested in music, and what circumstances
or events led to your becoming a professional musician?
I have always loved music and in 8th grade it just started to click.
My band director also had a dance band and started to hire me for
gigs around that time. I loved it then and I love it now!
If you were to describe your music as a color, what color would
it be and why?
It would be aqua because it is not common but is pleasing.