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I Can Hear You, Mr. Wilson

Matt Wilson Quartet Matt Wilson Quartet Morrice Blackwell
The Green Mill is one of the oldest bars in Chicago if not indeed THE oldest bar. I don’t know if it was one of the places he owned, but it was one of the favorite hangouts of legendary underworld boss "Scarface" Al Capone. On the walls within are idyllic paintings framed by the kind of elaborate, baroque-style woodwork that you just don’t see in bars (or just about anyplace) built after 1930. Though time has somewhat dulled the shine, the Green Mill (near the corner of Broadway & Lawrence on the North Side) retains much of its elegant, old-school splendor. It’s one of the city’s coolest hosts for one of the nation’s most vibrant jazz scenes featuring both local and national talent, and it’s one of the most affordable in darn near ANY city: the cover is usually $8-12.

Tonight wraps up a two-night stand by the NYC-based Matt Wilson Quartet. Drummer/composer Matt Wilson is definitely one of the proverbial up-and-comers on the New York jazz scene he’s played and recorded with Lee Konitz, Mario Pavone and Dewey Redman, as well as leading different bands of his own. Last time Wilson was here he brought his Arts & Crafts group, this time ‘round it’s his Quartet: Andrew D’Angelo and Jeff Lederer on various reeds, Yosuke Inoue on bass and Wilson on the tubs. Throughout three sets, these fellows blazed through some snarling but good-humored freebop, chock full of catchy melodic hooks, unexpected twists ‘n’ turns and inspired, prickly soloing. Wilson is all over his kit yet he never overplays always pushing the music forward with an unerring sense of Swing, charged with crackling, angst-free energy. The rollicking tenor of Lederer has a touch of the booting R&B honk of Red Prysock as well as the rougher side of Ben Webster, D’Angelo wails to the heavens with his sanctified, Gypsy/Rom-folk-tinged, Charlie Parker-via-Ornette Coleman alto and Inoue is as nimble as Gene Kelly on the big bass. Wilson and D’Angelo’s tunes featured forays into hip-hop-like funk ("Big Behind") and Indian and Middle Eastern music ("Raga") as well as some Frank Zappa-esque whimsy (several tunes). One of the many admirable qualities of this band is its dynamic sense of well, dynamics: they know when to let ‘er rip and when to pull back, to play sound against silence. Every now and again, some solos would tend to go on a wee bit too long then ZAP! Back in the NY groove! Wilson & co. pulled off a very impressive trick: to make uncompromising, creative jazz FUN and the crowded house dug it big-time. [His latest platter, Humidity is swell as well.]

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Matt Wilson Quartet
  • Concert Date: 4/5/2003
  • Subtitle: Matt Wilson Qt wows 'em at oldest Chicago Club
  • Venue: The Green Mill
  • City State Country: Chicago, IL
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