Album review: Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski’s ‘Gathering Call’


You can’t talk about drummer Matt Wilson without talking about swing, that pulse of jazz that’s been his specialty on more than 250 recordings as a sideman. Reconvening his longtime quartet, Wilson again shines with some unexpected help in keyboardist John Medeski.

Often lumped into some jam-band ghetto for his ventures with the avant-funk trio Medeski Martin and Wood, Medeski’s talents have long been harder to pigeonhole, including a contemplative solo record in 2013. Here, he’s a precisely moving part on an album that should be mandatory listening for traditionalists and jazz-curious Phish-heads alike.

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“Some Assembly Required” crackles through an irresistible thrust from Wilson, who gives way to sterling solos from saxophonist Jeff Lederer and cornetist Kirk Knuffke before Medeski enters with a gleefully off-kilter turn. Wilson takes a playful run at the Ellington songbook with “Main Stem” and “You Dirty Dog,” and “How Ya Going” surges with a locomotive rush as the band twists the song into knots.

“Get Over, Get Off and Get On” sparkles with vintage soul jazz, and Charlie Rouse’s “Pumpkin’s Delight” glides over Chris Lightcap’s nimble bass line before a howling solo from Lederer. Even Beyoncé comes to the party with a romantic take on “If I Were a Boy” that’s as exuberant as the rest of the album. It’s a call worth picking up.

Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski

“Gathering Call”

3.5 stars