Matt Wilson / Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts

An Attitude for Gratitude

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Drummer Matt Wilson's 2012 effort with his Arts & Crafts ensemble, An Attitude for Gratitude, is a buoyant and lithe set of straight-ahead post-bop. As his band's name implies, Wilson is a master at balancing creative spontaneity that veers ever so slightly toward the avant-garde with a healthy and adept working knowledge of the jazz tradition. The same is true for each of his bandmembers, here including trumpeter Terell Stafford, pianist/organist Gary Versace, and bassist Martin Wind. These are superbly gifted and technically skilled artists, all of whom also bring compositional voices to the proceedings. To these ends, we get Versace's swinging and pointillist opener "Poster Boy," Wind's devastatingly lyrical ballad "Cruise Blues," and Wilson's harmolodic-sounding (and Carl Sandburg-inspired) "Bubbles." Elsewhere, Wilson delves into some lesser-appreciated jazz standards, including a funky take on Jaco Pastorius' "Teen Town," as well as an inspired reworking of "Happy Days Are Here Again" done à la Barbra Streisand's reworking as a slow, poignant ballad featuring Stafford. It must be noted that much An Attitude for Gratitude soars upon Stafford's supple and athletic trumpet playing. A consummate sideman for most of his twenties, Stafford (in his mid-forties at the time of this recording) has developed into a inspired virtuoso on the horn, and tracks such as "Happy Days" and the group's gospel-inflected take on Nat Adderley's "Little Boy with the Sad Eyes," and obviously his solo, unaccompanied version of "There's No You," help the album rise above the standard. For that, we can all be grateful.

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