Jazz great Matt Wilson | Honey & Salt

Accomplished drummer and his Honey & Salt Quintet perform in Helena and Missoula

On Stage

Listen up jazz and poetry lovers: 2018’s Jazz Artist of the Year Matt Wilson brings music and poetry from his award-winning album, Honey and Salt, to The Myrna Loy stage in Helena Friday, Jan. 24, and to the Downtown Dance Collective in Missoula for two evening shows Jan. 25.

Matt Wilson and his Honey & Salt Quintet perform in Helena and Missoula.
Matt Wilson and his Honey & Salt Quintet perform in Helena and Missoula.Photo © John Abbott

He performs in both towns with his Honey and Salt Quintet, featuring Dawn Clement, Nadje Noordhuis, Jeff Lederer and Martin Wind.

The New York-based drummer combines buoyant zeal, idiosyncratic style, infectious humor, joyous swing and an indomitable spirit of surprise. Together, with his universally recognized personal warmth, these qualities have made Wilson one of the most in-demand players and educators on the modern jazz scene, both beloved and respected by his peers, elders and students.

Whether anchoring an all-star group at the White House, juggling tricky rhythmic swerves with his own quartets, exploring the poetry of Carl Sandburg, sensitively supporting vocalists such as Dena DeRose, or donning a superhero cape to inspire young musicians to embrace their individuality, Wilson approaches music as a man on a mission: fostering a lively and passionate connection between music and people, whether they be playing or listening to it.

Wilson has released 13 albums as a leader. His latest, Honey And Salt (Music Inspired By The Poetry Of Carl Sandburg), was recognized on over 30 worldwide “Best of 2017” lists, including Top Ten in the National Public Radio Critics Poll, JazzTimes, Irish Times, Boston Globe, Jazziz and All About Jazz. The album received a coveted 5-star review (masterpiece) in DownBeat.

The Jazz Journalists Association picked Wilson not only as artist of the year in 2018, but also chose Honey and Salt as that year’s Jazz Album of the Year.

One of today’s most admired jazz artists and composers, Wilson explores the poetry of beloved American poet Carl Sandburg in this collection of music. He brings it to The Myrna Loy as a part of a prestigious Chamber Music America jazz consortium grant, in collaboration with the Stanford Jazz Project and Jazz Bakery.

All About Jazz says of Wilson, “There are few more emphatically dazzling drummers working today.”

And according to JazzTrail, Honey and Salt provides “moments of pure delight.”

AllMusic Review finds the combination of these two Illinois natives, Wilson and Sandburg, a perfect artistic match: Sandburg “wrote about everyday life in a “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 … Honey and Salt, showcases his playful, inventive jazz that straddles the borders between avant-garde improvisation, ruminative folk, and swinging, bluesy post-bop.”

Helena: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Myrna; tickets are $22 and available at themyrnaloy.com, the box office at 15 N. Ewing St. or by calling 406-443-0287.

Missoula: 7 and 9 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Downtown Dance Collective; tickets are $18-$28 and available online. Call 406-360-8763 for details.