New York-based drummer Matt Wilson is an in-demand performer, composer, and bandleader known for his adventurous and wry post-bop jazz. Born in Knoxville, Illinois in 1964, Wilson started playing drums in grade school. After high school, he studied at Wichita State University and spent time in the Midwest, both as a freelancer and as a teacher. In 1987 he moved to Boston, where he was soon playing with the Either/Orchestra and the Charlie Kohlhase Quintet. In 1992 Wilson relocated to New York, where he played with Redman, Cecil McBee, Lee Konitz, Fred Hersch, Tim Hagans, Ingrid Jensen, and others, appearing on a couple dozen records as a sideman. Headlining dates during the '90s include 1998's Going Once, Going Twice and 1999's Smile.
In 2001, he released Arts & Crafts, his first album showcasing his Arts & Crafts ensemble with trumpeter Terell Stafford and pianist Larry Goldings. After releasing another quartet album with 2003's Humidity, Wilson returned to his Arts & Crafts ensemble with 2004's Wake Up! (To What's Happening). He stuck with the same group for The Scenic Route, released in 2007, the same year that Big Picture was issued on the Cryptogramophone label by Trio M, a freewheeling collaborative group featuring Wilson along with pianist Myra Melford and bassist Mark Dresser.
In 2009, Wilson returned to his own quartet lineup for That's Gonna Leave a Mark, followed by the holiday-themed Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O in 2010. A year later, he appeared on the Trio M album Guest House. He then returned to his Arts & Crafts ensemble with the album An Attitude for Gratitude. In 2014, Wilson stayed busy pairing with pianist John Medeski for Gathering Call and backing singer/pianist Dena DeRose on We Won't Forget You: An Homage to Shirley Horn. He also joined pianist Denny Zeitlin for Stairway to the Stars.
Tragically, in 2014 Wilson lost his wife, the violinist and teacher Felicia Wilson, who died after a four-year battle with leukemia. Two years later, Wilson celebrated her life with the album Beginning of a Memory, featuring his Big Happy Family group with trumpeter Stafford, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, saxophonist Joel Frahm, pianist Gary Versace, and others. Also in 2016, he appeared on Time/Life (Songs for the Whales and Other Beings) with the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra. ~ Scott Yanow