Montana Public Radio

Matt Wilson Keeps Jazz Listeners Guessing - And Thirsty For More

Aug 11, 2020

Matt Wilson personifies the spontaneous energy of jazz. He's a drummer's drummer who seems to be everywhere at once, teaching, playing, recording, and bringing jazz to new audiences with the motto: "The answer is YES ... if it's legal."

Host John Floridis and Missoula drummer-percussionist-teacher Ed Stalling sat down with Wilson to ask how he bridges the "moat" between performer and audience, and to hear the backstory to his much-lauded recent recording, "Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg."

Matt Wilson has anchored an all-star group at the White House, juggled tricky rhythmic swerves with his own quartets, celebrated the holidays with his Christmas Tree-O, sensitively supporting vocalists such as Dena DeRose and Elvis Costello, recorded thirteen albums as leader and co-led another dozen, presented concerts at a neighborhood church and donned a superhero cape to inspire young musicians to embrace their individuality.  He approaches music as a man on a mission: fostering a lively and passionate connection between music and people, whether they be playing or listening to it.

"There are a few more dazzling drummers working today, but almost nobody in Wilson's peer group with a broader grasp of jazz or a more natural sense of time, or a stronger signature as a band leader, or more goodwill among his fellow players."

Nate Chinen, "JazzTimes"

(Broadcast: Musician's Spotlight,  3/24/20 and 8/11/20. Listen on the radio Tuesdays, 7 p.m., or via podcast.)