Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O
Tuesday, December 1st, 8 p.m.| Kate Buchanan Room, HSU
“Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O provides Yuletide greetings so eloquent and mind-bending even the nastiest of Scrooges will want to pay attention.”
—Frank-John Hadley, DownBeat
“If we were to form a jazz combo, our model would most definitely be Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O!”
—The Three Wise Men
Until it was pitched to us, we’d never considered doing a holiday-themed show, but we gotta say: we’re thrilled to be a part of the Matt Wilson Christmas Tree-O’s “16 Days of Christmas North American Tour.” We loved the group’s eponymous album, which came out a few years back. And in a perfect world, we’d have Wilson back every year, no matter what the season. You won’t meet a more magnanimous soul in the jazz cosmos (maybe not in any cosmos) and—no disrespect to our other guests—you won’t find a greater musician, either. His “Tree-O” takes on the holiday repertoire, from the Chipmunk Song to the Hallelujah Chorus, in a spirit that’s simultaneously goofy and earnest, inexorable and unpredictable—and totally reverent. We know: holiday shows can be dreary. This one will be utterly fresh.
Chalk that up first and foremost to Matt Wilson’s elfin sense of humor and dazzling musicianship. Wilson belongs to the lineage of the Clown Princes of Jazz—Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Han Bennink—players who find extraordinary joy in jazz and in life, and who transmit that joy to audiences every time they play. Like all of those icons, Wilson is funny man who is first and foremost a very serious musician. Jazz Times opines that there is “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.” A gifted composer, bandleader, producer and educator, he is renowned for his flair and virtuosity as a drummer and his good-vibes positivity as a bandleader (“an ambassador of good feeling, the New York Times calls him), not to mention his facility for collaborating with top musicians across the spectrum of jazz, from the mainstream to the avant-garde and virtually everything in between.
Wilson has appeared on over 350 recordings as a sideman and released 12 albums as a leader, 5 as a co-leader. In addition to the Christmas Tree-O, the Knoxville, Illinois native leads three other groups: Arts and Crafts (part of our 2012-13 season), the Matt Wilson Quartet, and the Carl Sandburg Project; and he is an integral part of Trio M (with pianist Myra Melford and bassist Mark Dresser, RJA visitors in 2008) and the legendary Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. In addition to his myriad sideman gigs, education initiatives and broadcast projects, Wilson has topped the DownBeat Critics Poll, been featured on the covers of DownBeat and Jazz Times, and been named Drummer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. A crazy-busy performer, he is a constant presence at premiere nightclubs and festivals around the globe.
Bandmates Jeff Lederer (reeds) and Paul Sikivie (bass) also get around: in addition to leading his own ensembles, Lederer is a regular in the Matt Wilson Quartet and in bands led by Bobby Sanabria and salsa trombonist Jimmy Bosch, while Sikivie is a sideman in several groups, most notably vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant’s trio with Aaron Diehl and Lawrence Leathers.
(Adapted from Braithwaite & Katz)
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’s Christmas Tree-O will also present an open public workshop at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, December 2d, in HSU's Studio Theatre (to the left and down the hall from the Van Duzer lobby). People of all levels of musical experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
Words & Pixels:
Video (see also at left)
Audio (see at left)