Few musicians embody the spontaneous energy of jazz quite like Matt Wilson, who was recently named 2018 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. 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 many distinctive ensembles: the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts & Crafts, Honey and Salt, Big Happy Family, Topsy Turvy and the Christmas Tree-O.
With his two most recent recordings, Wilson has achieved the very rare feat of receiving two consecutive 5-star (masterpiece) reviews from DownBeat magazine. His latest album, Honey and Salt (Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg), was chosen as the 2018 Record of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association and also received 5-star reviews from three separate All About Jazz writers, Irish Times and Diariofolk. The recording, his thirteenth as a leader for Palmetto, has also been recognized on over thirty “Best Of “ lists, including The Top Ten Recordings of 2017 lists by NPR, JazzTimes, Boston Globe, DownBeat, Jazziz, Cadence, Irish Times, Just Jazz, Stem Tempest and numerous other publications.
Wilson’s impressive discography numbers more than 400 CDs, including releases by his co-led trios Sifter and Trio M. He has performed with such luminaries as Dewey Redman, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Potter, Paul Bley, Elvis Costello, Lee Konitz, Geri Allen, Andrew Hill, Jane Ira Bloom, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Marshall Allen, Joanne Brackeen, John Zorn, Cecil McBee, Paquito D’ Rivera, Ray Anderson, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Candido, Buster Williams, Sheila Jordan, Gary Peacock, Kenny Barron, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Hubert Laws, George Cables, Denny Zeitlin and many others.
Matt has been featured on the covers of DownBeat, JazzTimes, Modern Drummer, JazzEd, JazzTimes Educational Supplement, Jazziz, The New York City Jazz Record, Hot House and Coda magazines. He was voted Drummer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2003 and 2011 and he topped the “Rising Star Drummer” category in DownBeat’s Critics Poll for five consecutive years, among numerous other accolades, including a 2011 Grammy nomination. In demand as an educator, he’s led workshops and master classes around the world and is on faculty at the New School, SUNY Purchase, San Francisco Conservatory, Sarah Lawrence College and Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen, Holland.
“Any time you get a chance to hear Matt Wilson play drums—whether he’s a leader or sideman—take it, and be sure to sit front and center. He exemplifies the idea of the artist’s instrument and music being an extension of who they are as a human being. You can hear Wilson smiling behind the drum kit.” DownBeat Magazine
“There are a few more emphatically dazzling drummers working today, but almost nobody in Wilson’s peer group with a broader sense of jazz history, or a more natural sense of time, or a stronger signature as a bandleader, or more goodwill among his fellow players.” Jazz Times
“The drummer Matt Wilson is an ambassador of good feeling!” New York Times
“Drummer Matt Wilson is one of the friendliest guys in jazz, and his music, even at its most complex, reflects that. It's unpretentious and full of easygoing swing.” National Public Radio
“As a body of work, Wilson’s Palmetto discs are among the most exciting in recent jazz. Conscious of history, exploratory, funny and mournful by turns, they keep the listener guessing and, better still, thirsty for more.” Penguin Guide to Jazz
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