This Thursday! Grammy-nominated drum star Matt Wilson talks shop at our latest Riffin’ session

Riffin’: CapitalBop Listening Sessions at the Atlas, CapitalBop’s series of fun, ear-opening artist conversations, continues tomorrow with the world-renowned drummer Matt Wilson. He’s not just one of the most in-demand drummers in the game — playing with Herbie Hancock, Joe Lovano, John Scofield and so many others — he’s also a beloved jazz educator, and one of the funniest dudes in music. So talking to him about his ideas and his influences is guaranteed to turn up insights and draw laughs.

One memory that sticks out for us at CapitalBop: At the 2011 Undead Music Festival, we heard him perform a solo set at a skate park in a dreary neighborhood in Brooklyn. The sound was soft, and humid, and deep — the entire set moved from simple, swaying beats to complicated patterns that whipped your brain like heavy cream. Then, at the end, he locked into a simple four-beat pattern and started singing something. It slowly registered, and everyone cracked up — then started singing along. Before you knew it, he’d gotten a whole room of jazz freaks to belt Mariah Carey’s “I’ll Be There.” Only when you hang with Matt Wilson, folks.

 
At the Riffin’ session on Thursday, we’ll be watching three classic videos of musicians who have influenced Wilson. After each one, we’ll ask you — the audience — to give us some reactions to what you’ve just seen, and ask Matt a question or two. Each of the first two sessions in the series have been fascinating and exciting. This one is sure to be no different. So arrive by 7, hang out at the session with Matt and us CapitalBop folks, and then stay for his performance at 8 p.m., which will feature his unconventional holiday post-bop band, Christmas Tree-O (no kidding…okay, a lot of kidding…but this is a real thing, and the band’s skill is powerful). The group will be joined by trumpet great Terell Stafford, a special guest.

 
Schedule of the remaining Riffin’ sessions:

Wednesday’s Riffin’ session with Matt Wilson at the Atlas Performing Arts Center begins at 7 p.m., and entry is free. Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O performs at 8 p.m. Tickets to the concert cost $28.50 in advance, or $33.50 at the door, and can be purchased here. More information is available here.

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Giovanni Russonello

About Giovanni Russonello

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Giovanni is the founder of CapitalBop, and a music critic for the New York Times. He previously served as a contributor to the Washington Post, the FADER, JazzTimes, NPR Music and others, and hosted “On the Margin,” a books show on WPFW-FM. As head of CapitalBop, he has covered the D.C. jazz scene since 2010. (He is no longer directly involved in the presenting of CapitalBop's concerts.) He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in history, with a focus on African-American history. Reach Giovanni at [email protected] Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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