Drummer and composer Matt Wilson has had a life-long interest in the work of Carl Sandburg. Born and raised in Knoxville, Ohio (the town to the west of Galesburg, the drummer's great-great aunt was married to the poet's first cousin - there is a picture in the album's booklet of Matt's father Tom with that cousin (Uncle Charlie). For those who have followed Matt Wilson's career know that his first album as a leader, "As Wave Follows Wave" (1996 on Palmetto Records) is named for a Sandburg poem. In 2001, he received a grant from Chamber Music America to create a program of original songs that featured selected works of Sandburg. He put together a quartet with saxophonist and clarinetist Jeff Lederer, guitarist and vocalist Dawn Thomson, and acoustic bass guitarist Martin Wind. Cornetist Ron Miles joined the group along the way and in October of 2016, the ensemble, now dubbed Honey And Salt (yes, named for a 1962 collection of the poet's works), gathered at engineer Matt Balitsaris's studios on Maggie's Farm, and the results "Matt Wilson's Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg" is the drummer's ninth album for Palmetto.
|photo by John Abbott|
|photo by VH Guidini|
"Matt Wilson's Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg" is a smashing achievement. Wonderfully musical, deeply emotional, and so much fun - what more could one want from an artist? Take it on the road and expose more people to the "populist" poetry, the fascinating melodies, and great band that Matt Wilson has put together in this heartfelt project. Listen, listen deeply!
For more information about the project and the upcoming September 2017 tour dates, go to www.mattwilsonjazz.com.
Here's a tune with a "country" twang:
|photo by John Dolan|
One might be tempted to start with CD 2 because you hear the lines of Ms. Dickinson's that prompted the compositions. Read by actress Deborah Rush (Broadway and television), most of the pieces are read before the pieces (there are several exceptions). But you really can hear how pieces like "Emily & Her Atoms" and "One Note from One Bird" (excerpt from "The Gorgeous Nothings") are built from the poems and poem fragments. The latter tune does open with one note from the piano before Ms. Rush intones "One note from/ One Bird/ is better than/ a million words/...A scabbard/ Needs/ has - holds/ but one/ sword" - listen to how the quartet expands that one note and those words outward away from its simple center into a musical meadowland with a sweeping melody and roiling drums.
|photo: Lucy Gram|
For more information, go to www.janeirabloom.com. Release date for the album is September 8, 2017 and is available for pre-order at amazon.com.