Matt Wilson review: A great jazz vehicle for Carl Sandburg’s poetry

Honey and Salt
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Artist: Matt Wilson
Genre: Jazz
Label: Palmetto

"Music isn't all flowers and candy," says Matt Wilson, "it has to have some edge to it." In support of that conclusion, Honey and Salt is the US drummer and composer's clear-eyed but affectionate tribute to Carl Sandburg, America's "poet of the people".

Wilson's atmospheric, delicately composed episodes – 18 in all – serve as settings for the great poet's deadpan, laconic words, improbably delivered here by a roll call of senior jazz musicians including John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano, as well as actor Jack Black.

Sparse and direct, like the poems themselves, Wilson's compositions give truth the album's enigmatic closing words, intoned by composer Carla Bley: "To know silence perfectly is to know music".

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a musician, writer and director