Redwood Jazz Alliance

Matt Wilson's Honey and Salt
Tuesday, September 12th, 8 p.m.| Kate Buchanan Room, HSU

"Stunning, melodically enriched, jazz-inflected avant-country."
—John Murph, DownBeat

Honey and Salt

Photo: John Abbott



Upon the death of Carl Sandburg, fifty years ago this summer, Lyndon Johnson gave a succinct overview of the populist poet: “Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.”

Drummer/composer/jazz superhero Matt Wilson grew up in Knoxville, Illinois, just down the road apiece from Sandburg’s hometown of Galesburg. Matt has been finding occasional inspiration in the iconic poet’s words since his debut album twenty years ago, and his latest record (which garnered a rare 5-star review in DownBeat) is devoted completely to settings of works by the prairie bard.

The diversity of Sandburg’s oeuvre, which ranges from poetry to folk songs to children’s stories and biography, inclusively documented the broad American experience. Wilson’s settings of Sandburg’s poems display the same eclecticism, incorporating blues, country, gospel, marching band, and New Orleans funk, all in moments alternately humorous, insistent, and profound.

Besides leading his own groups (twice before on the RJA stage), Wilson is a frequent accompanist for a long list of jazz legends, having appeared on hundreds of albums, and garnering copious accolades.

In one poem, Sandburg writes, “Paper people like to meet other paper people.” Inspired by that dictum, perhaps, Wilson has deftly assembled not only disparate styles and moods, but also like-minded interpreters. To help bring Sandburg’s words to life, he gathered for the album an attentive team of collaborators that includes several RJA alumni, all talented composers and leaders in their own right.

Cornetist Ron Miles is known for his unique tone and intense melodicism, commonly heard with the likes of Bill Frisell, Don Byron, and Brian Blade. Multi-reedist Jeff Lederer, a frequent collaborator of Wilson’s, has his own eclectic repertoire of reinterpreted sacred and orchestral compositions. Bassist Martin Wind is a skilled sideman and soloist with several albums as a leader. The album features the inspired guitar and vocals of Dawn Thomson, replaced on this West Coast tour by the talented vocalist/pianist Dawn Clement.

When Wilson and his bandmates aren’t spiritedly reciting or singing selected Sandburg texts, a handful of jazz celebrities appear on the album to read. For the Humboldt crowd, expect some local luminaries to do the honors. Along with an ace crew of improvisers wailing away, and Matt’s effervescent drumming and personality tying it all together, this will be an unforgettable evening of words and music.

Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website and at People's Records, Wildwood Music, Wildberries, and The Works.

Matt Wilson and members of Honey and Salt will also present an open public workshop at 11 a.m. Wednesday, September 13th in Music "A" 131 (across the walkway from Fulkerson Recital Hall). People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.

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Additional support for this show comes from KHSU, Rose Court Cottage, Claire Iris Schencke, and Zwerdling Law Firm.

HSU SealWednesday's free public workshop is made possible through the generosity of HSU's College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of Music.

If you or your business would like to consider sponsoring a Redwood Jazz Alliance event and/or advertising in our concert programs, please e-mail us or visit our Underwriting & Donations page.

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