Honey & Salt

Honey & Salt

by Matt Wilson


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Honey & Salt

If fellow Illinois natives poet Carl Sandburg and drummer Matt Wilson were to share one quality, it would be the element of surprise. A deeply important, Pulitzer Prize-winning figure in 20th century American verse, Sandburg (who died in 1967 at age 89) wrote about everyday life in an non-rhyming fashion with a wry, whimsical tone. He was also famously a fan of jazz and folk music, and his poems evince a musical, lyrical quality that's at once intellectually inventive and soulfully plainspoken. Much of the same could be said about Wilson, whose Sandburg tribute, 2017's Honey and Salt, showcases his playful, inventive jazz that straddles the borders between avant-garde improvisation, ruminative folk, and swinging, bluesy post-bop. Here, Wilson pays homage to Sandburg with a thoughtfully rendered set of songs inspired by and composed around Sandburg's poems. Joining Wilson is a group of like-minded associates including singer/guitarist Dawn Thomson, cornetist Ron Miles, reedman Jeff Lederer, and bassist Martin Wind. Together, they play with an organic exuberance, turning Sandburg's poems into songs, many of which feature Thomson's measured croon. They turn Sandburg's "Soup" into an earthy blues, "Night Stuff" into a languid, moonlit chamber piece, and "We Must Be Polite" into a roiling New Orleans second-line jam. Other tracks are equally engaging as Wilson highlights the distinctly American quality of both Sandburg's writing and the sound of jazz and folk music, as on the marching band-esque "Stars, Songs, Faces" and the ambient country twang of "Prairie Barn." Adding to the album's playful air of surprise is a handful of well-known guest performers, brought in not to play, but to recite Sandburg's poems, including bassist Christian McBride, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Carla Bley, and actor Jack Black, among others. Sandburg himself is even featured on "Fog," his voice culled from a 1968 recording and set against a moody solo drum improvisation by Wilson; a magical duet. Perhaps the most surprising, and enjoyable, aspect of Honey and Salt is just how deftly Wilson has combined his music and Sandburg's writing, never sacrificing either or limiting the listener's ability to imbibe both at the same time.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/25/2017
Label: Palmetto Records
UPC: 0753957218423
catalogNumber: 2184
Rank: 69295

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Matt Wilson   Primary Artist,Drums,Voices,Readings
Carl Sandburg   Readings
Carla Bley   Readings
Joe Lovano   Readings
Rufus Reid   Voices,Readings
John Scofield   Readings
Ron Miles   Cornet
Bill Frisell   Readings
Christian McBride   Voices,Readings
Dawn Thomson   Guitar,Voices
Kim Taylor   Voices
Jeff Lederer   Reeds,Harmonium,Voices,Readings
Audrey Wilson   Background Vocals,Voices
Todd Angstadt   Voices
Jenny Rose Lederer   Background Vocals,Voices
Dori Melton   Voices

Technical Credits

Matt Balitsaris   Producer,Engineer
Matt Wilson   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Jeff Lederer   Producer
John Abbott   Band Photo
Megan Williamson   Drawing

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