It seems unlikely that there was a lunch break for this
recording. The accompanying notes are union specific
about the session: “Recorded January 29th, 2013 at
Maggie’s Farm from 12:00pm – 6:30pm.” Breakfast was
probably pretty good but if drummer Matt Wilson and
Company wanted to churn out a 13-tune set of originals
and standards, they probably had to hold out for
dinner. The results were worth the fast.
Wilson’s quartet consists of two horns, saxophonist
Jeff Lederer and cornet player Kirk Knuffke, and
bassist Chris Lightcap. Lederer and Knuffke are
constantly intertwined throughout the recording,
frequently echoing each other’s phrases, if not starting
new ones before the other finishes. Although billed as
a “plus”, pianist John Medeski is a major component
on what is really a session by the Matt Wilson Quintet.
The band opens with a popping version of
Ellington’s “Main Stem”. Knuffke and Lederer
introduce themselves with overlapping solos, pushed
by Wilson’s confident thump. Medeski says a short
hello and the tune is over in less than three minutes.
The late bassist Butch Warren’s “Barack Obama” is
treated with grace, Lightcap taking a brief solo that is
more space than sound before Lederer offers a
stuttering clarinet solo and Medeski floats like stardust,
never descending from the upper registers.
Six of the tunes are Wilson’s. Medeski’s gloves
come off for “Some Assembly Required”, pummeling
the piano with every knuckle and sideways elbow.
Knuffke steps in amid the fisticuffs to thread his way
overhead. “How Ya Going?” boasts waxy horn
harmonies reminiscent of Ornette Coleman’s early
experiments while Medeski skitters around the
simmering quartet, dropping spiky, dissonant lines.
The real curveball is Beyoncé’s “If I Were A Boy”,
handled with a stronger backbeat than the original,
giving Knuffke all the room in the world to state the
melody. Crashing cymbals step in midway as Lederer
takes a throaty solo over Knuffke’s simultaneous
bursts. The cover works, swaggering under its
reinvention, a refreshing addition to the jazz canon.