Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Matt Wilson Earns Two 2018 Jazz Journalist Association Awards

© John Abbott

Iconic jazz drummer and composer Matt Wilson 
Earns 2018 Jazz Journalist Association Awards in two categories

Musician of the Year 

Record of the Year for Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg (Palmetto Records)

The buoyant and indefatigable drummer and composer Matt Wilson has won two 2018 awards from the Jazz Journalists Association: Musician of the Year and Record of the Year for his August 2017 Palmetto release Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg. 

“Wow, I am very honored to be recognized by the Jazz Journalists Association whose passionate commitment to the art form helps strengthen our great commUnity," says Wilson. "I extend my deepest gratitude to each and every one of them, and especially to the members of my bands. They are my dear friends that support my crazy ideas with love and enthusiasm. It is a delight to share sound with them and to be lifted by their artistry.”

These are the 22nd annual honors for excellence in music and music journalism conferred by the JJA, an international professional organization of writers, photographers, broadcasters, videographers and new media content providers. Recipients of awards in 39 categories were chosen by JJA voting members. Most musicians will receive their engraved statuettes in front of their audiences at U.S. performances during the summer. Awards for media-related work will be presented at the 2018 Jazz Awards party, a fundraiser for the non-profit JJA, open to the public, at the New School in NYC on June 12, 2018.  

Some fifty years after Carl Sandburg’s passing, drummer/composer Matt Wilson’s Honey and Salt pays tribute to the “poet of the people,” who won three Pulitzer Prizes, wrote the definitive biography of Abraham Lincoln, advocated for civil rights and traveled the country collecting traditional folk songs. The album, released in August 2017 on Palmetto Records, earned wide critical acclaim as an “irresistible record,” (DownBeat). 

To recite Sandburg’s poems, Wilson enlisted a stellar list of jazz greats whose spoken voices are as expressive and eloquent as their better-known instrumental voices, including Christian McBride, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Carla Bley, Joe Lovano and Rufus Reid, along with actor/comedian/ musician Jack Black – an honorary member of the jazz family through his marriage to Charlie Haden’s daughter Tanya. Wilson sets these recitations in an eclectic variety of settings for the ensemble that he’s formed expressly to pay homage to Sandburg: guitarist/vocalist Dawn Thomson, cornetist Ron Miles, multi-reedist Jeff Lederer, and bassist Martin Wind, along with Wilson’s jubilant and spirited drumming.

© John Abbott

Sandburg’s influence has emerged sporadically throughout Wilson’s career. His leader debut, As Wave Follows Wave, was named for a Sandburg poem that is reprised here; his 2003 album Humidity included a setting of Sandburg’s “Wall Shadows;” and An Attitude for Gratitude, the 2012 release by Wilson’s Arts and Crafts quartet, features the Sandburg-inspired “Bubbles.” The Honey and Salt project began life in 2002 with the help of a Chamber Music America New Works Grant and has since toured the world while Wilson has continued to delve into Sandburg’s volumes for new additions to the band’s repertoire.

Few musicians embody the spontaneous energy of jazz quite like Matt Wilson. The New York-based drummer combines buoyant zeal, idiosyncratic style, infectious humor, joyous swing, and an indomitable spirit of surprise, making him one of the most in demand players and educators on the modern jazz scene. He leads an array of distinctive ensembles - the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts & Crafts, Christmas Tree-O, Topsy Turvy and Big Happy Family. Wilson’s 13th recording as a leader for Palmetto, Honey and Salt (Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg) earned wide critical praise. His impressive discography numbers more than 400 CDs, including releases by his co-led trios Sifter and Trio M and sideman recordings with such greats as Dewey Redman, Paul Bley, Charlie Haden, and Lee Konitz. He’s topped the “Rising Star Drummer” category in DownBeat’s Critics’ Poll for five consecutive years and has twice been voted Drummer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. As an educator, he’s led workshops and master classes around the world and is on the faculty at the New School, SUNY Purchase, San Francisco Conservatory and the Prins Claus Conservatorium in Holland.