Matt Wilson Quartet – That's Gonna To Leave A Mark (2009)

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by S. Victor Aaron

The highly versatile drummer Matt Wilson has made a name as a leader of bands that straddled the fence between post-bop and avant garde with other music forms tossed in for grins ever since his headliner debut As Wave Follows Wave, which featured tenor sax veteran Dewey Redman. Soon afterwards, Wilson formed his piano-less Quartet that includes Andrew D’Angelo and originally featured Joel Frahm on sax. This crew recorded a handful of albums in the late ’90’s-early aughts that expanded on Wilson’s fondness for jumping sub-genres and maintained an element of wit to keep the proceedings fun and not take itself too seriously.

After a five or six year recording layover during which he concentrated more on his piano-based Arts And Crafts band, Wilson has reconvened his Quartet in the studio, and the comeback album That’s Gonna Leave Mark, released Tuesday, is the result. With Frahm long since replaced by Jeff Lederer on saxes and Chris Lightcap now manning the standup bass, the Quartet returns with its trademark energy, enthusiasm and light humor intact. And everyone in the band contributes tunes, which certainly can’t hurt if you’re looking for diversity of ideas.

And so as before, Wilson & Co. merrily traipses across all manners of jazz attitudes: from the and the balls-out free form of the titular”That’s Gonna Leave A Mark,,” the to the rumbling rocker “Area Man” and the gospel tinged “Getting Friendly.”

Wilson usually pays tribute to Ornette Coleman somewhere on his records, and for this one, it’s found on the opener, D’Angelo perky harmolodic number “Shooshabuster.” D’Angelo’s alto blowing is as raw and fervent as is allowed in a studio (you can even hear the shouts of encouragement). That’s followed by the shuffling blues-based “Arts & Crafts.” “Rear Control” finds both horn players on clarinets, playing through three or four disparate tempos.

John Lewis’ standard composition “Two Bass Hit” gets a treatment similar to what Miles did to it in 1958, and a fine vehicle for all players to strut their stuff, especially Lederer on tenor sax. “Lucky” is a solemn, thoughtful song Lederer built from 12 notes chosen by his daughter, a highly original way to write a composition. Lightcap’s “Celibate Oriole” is just good, punchy whack jazz.

There’s a couple of non-originals tossed in at the end, too. The traditional hymn “Come And Find The Quiet Center” is given a somber reading and is highlighted by Lightcap’s delicate bass solo. The concluding cover is War’s 1975 hit “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” a clever choice when you think about it. It makes for a great “anthem vibe” that gets listeners involved and the background singing assistance from the female vocal trio Swayettes and Wilson’s own family adds to the festive sensation. If you really know the song, you’ll find that D’Angelo, Lederer and Lightcap are mimicking the lead vocal parts of the original pretty faithfully.

Matt Wilson summarizes the approach he and his cohorts took on this album like this: “There’s a lot of alignment in the music and there’s a lot of collision. I like all of that; it doesn’t always have to be smooth sailing.” I like all of that, too. It’s the very thing that makes That’s Gonna To Leave A Mark leave a mark on your ears.

This is Wilson’s eighth disc for Palmetto Records, the only record label he’s recorded for as a leader. Visit Matt’s website here.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron
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