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The Drummer Who Blows Bubbles At Gigs

Two bubbles found they had rainbows on their curves.
They flickered out saying:
"It was worth being a bubble just to have held that rainbow thirty seconds."

That's the poem "Bubbles," by Carl Sandburg. It contains a sentiment appropriate for a jazz musician, whose quests for even 30 irretrievable seconds of ebullient synchronicity consumes their professional lives. Incidentally, it inspired the drummer Matt Wilson to write a song. "So that's why I chose that particular poem and that particular way of writing the tune, to have that sort of enthusiasm and joy, and also just a kind of reckless abandon for life in that tune," Wilson told NPR's Guy Raz earlier this year. You can see his Arts and Crafts Quartet perform that song below — Wilson recites the poem as the music tapers off.

There are no actual bubbles, but don't put it past Matt Wilson. Here he is again: "[S]ometimes at gigs, we blow bubbles. And I think it gives people another chance to sort of feel part of it. That's what I really feel, like, that I want to do in performances, is really involve the people. I always say that the more that you can get people to laugh, the more chances you have to really touch them to cry." This is coming from the man behind the Christmas Tree-O, Armando Slice, "School Boy Thug" and breaking into costume as The Allower in the middle of delivering a commencement address.

This week, Matt Wilson leads the Arts and Crafts quartet at the Village Vanguard. WBGO and NPR Music will offer a live video webcast (and recording) of the first set on Wednesday night, Sept. 5, at 9 p.m. ET. Wilson has performed at the Vanguard many times; the first time I ever went to the venue, for instance, he was playing in the Buster Williams quartet. But this is the first time he's ever led a band there.

As for the music itself, it seems to reflect his personality. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviewed this band's latest album, An Attitude for Gratitude, earlier this year. He noted that Wilson has a serious side, but found that his band was full of endearing "odd strokes." "That's brilliant playing [from trumpeter Terell Stafford], but a little manic, which gets to the heart of this quartet's appeal," Whitehead said. "The players all get on Matt Wilson's slightly warped wavelength."

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