In today’s society, perception over reality influences everyday life. Grand offerings of seemingly luxurious lifestyles flood social channels, offering a glimpse of false security and achievement that rarely lie on a strong foundation. Just as a beautiful house is finished with vessels of silver and gold, underneath lies wood and earth.
On his marvelous new album, Vessels of Wood and Earth, guitarist/composer Dan Wilson takes the title to mean that we as a society tend to look at the shiny exteriors that attract us in an instant, rather than appreciate the less readily apparent structures that actually support the house. Through 11 joyfully dynamic compositions ranging from takes on classic songs from Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Ted Daffan mixed with a nod to the spiritual master John Coltrane as well as five original compositions, Wilson builds a foundation rooted as much in tradition as it is in moving the music irresistibly forward into the modern world.
That structural integrity was front of mind when Wilson set out to craft his label debut for bassist/composer Christian McBride’s new imprint Brother Mister Productions — the label’s second release. “In 2014, I was Artist-in-Residence at the Tri-C Jazz Festival in Cleveland, Ohio,” reflects McBride. “I was involved in numerous performances and outreach events over the course of maybe four days. Terri Pontremoli, Director of the festival, has been one of my closest confidants and collaborators over the course of 20-plus years. One thing she had never done during the course of our friendship was the old, ‘I got someone you need to hear’ bit. For that reason, when she did it that year, I was quite surprised. The person she wanted me to hear was guitarist Dan Wilson. When I got to Mahall's that night and heard him playing solo guitar, I was quite impressed. He was coming straight from that Montgomery/Benson/Burrell/Martino bag that Terri knew I would like. After it was over, I knew that I'd just met someone I should have met a long time before. Dan Wilson is an absolute monster! He has an enviable technique that comes so seemingly easy to him and his pocket is very deep. Now it's my honor to introduce you to him as a Brother Mister artist. In the words of Terri, ‘I got someone you need to hear.’”
Joined by pianist Christian Sands, bassist Marco Panascia, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and guest vocalist Joy Brown, the virtuosic guitarist’s broad musical roots inspired by Motown, gospel and jazz tradition result in a remarkable feel for arrangements. Wilson’s musical explorations allow the band to elevate each passage, aided by his fluid and melodic expression.
Due out April 23, the vividly expressionist recording finds Wilson in the purest of creative strides. “I try to elicit the same kind of visceral response to the music that I get in my gut while making it,” comments Wilson. “I want to convey the joy I get out of making the music.” That joy is deeply rooted in his musical beginnings in the church community, where he was quickly immersed in the rich gospel tradition. But at home, he was exposed to a wealth of music from his father, who played drums and bass, and his mother, a gifted singer.
“My parents loved Motown,” states Wilson. “My father only played at church, never at home, but my mother’s influence on me was amplified by her knowledge of standards and incredible memory for recalling lyrics and God-given natural talents as a singer.” Wilson’s parents exposed him to the great singers like Dinah Washington, Gloria Lynn, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, which he credits for his arioso approach to solos.
This strong sense of familial leadership continued when Wilson’s uncle introduced him to the world of jazz through the music of Wes Montgomery and his duets with jazz organist Jimmy Smith. “I was maybe 14 or 15,” Wilson reflects, “and my uncle took me into his basement and played me Wes and Jimmy and I was like, ‘Oh, this is it for me. I want to do that! I just want to do that forever.”
Wilson’s career took him on an exploratory journey into those foundations laid down by the guitar/organ tradition, eventually leading to an invitation to perform with jazz great Joey DeFrancesco’s quartet with which Wilson went on to earn a GRAMMY® Award nomination for DeFrancesco’s Project Freedom album (Mack Avenue Records, 2017). This collaboration allowed the guitarist to insert his own dialect into the musical prowess and respect that DeFrancesco had earned throughout his journey. Wilson had been playing with DeFrancesco for a few years when he met bassist, composer, arranger, Christian McBride. “It was just like the first time I met Joey – magic. We played three tunes and from note one, it was like ‘Yeah, we were born to play together.’” From there, Wilson went on to tour with McBride’s trio Tip City, eventually leading McBride to serve as producer on Vessels of Wood and Earth and release the album on his newly formed imprint Brother Mister Productions through Mack Avenue Music Group.
“He’s the same as a producer as he is as a person – what you see is what you get,” laughs Wilson. “Christian understands what it means to be both a band leader and sideman, so he’s got that unique musical perspective. I’m grateful to experience both the shock and the honor of being on Christian’s label.”
About Dan Wilson
Growing up in Akron, Ohio, Dan Wilson spent the majority of his youth within the church community, where his musical path began. Traces of his major guitar influences – including Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass, and George Benson to name a few – can be discerned through his playing, but his musical identity has been shaped by everything from gospel and blues to traditional jazz, hip-hop and horn players like Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson. After graduating from Hiram College, Wilson made his recording debut with pianist Joe McBride and performed to worldwide acclaim with Joey DeFrancesco and Christian McBride’s Tip City, eventually recording his debut as a leader To Whom It May Concern. Wilson has had the honor of sharing the stage with jazz greats including Eric Marienthal, Russell Malone, Les McCann, René Marie, Jeff Hamilton, David Sanborn and Dave Stryker. He also teaches jazz guitar and music theory through private lessons.
- AVAILABLE NOW: Dan Wilson | “Vessels of Wood and Earth” | Brother Mister Productions (Mack Avenue Music Group) - AVAILABLE NOW via Brother Mister Productions Guitarist/Composer Dan Wilson Calls Attention to the Beauty of Often Ignored Structural Foundations of Music and Life with Debut Label Release, Vessels of Wood and Earth Album Marks Second Release for McBride’s Mack Avenue Music Group Imprint Wilson Joined by Christian Sands, Marco Panascia, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Guest…
- Dan Wilson | “Vessels of Wood and Earth” | April 23 via Brother Mister Productions (Mack Avenue Music Group) - Guitarist/Composer Dan Wilson Calls Attention to the Beauty of Often Ignored Structural Foundations of Music and Life with Debut Label Release Vessels of Wood and Earth, Due April 23, Marks Second Release on Christian McBride’s Mack Avenue Music Group Imprint, Brother Mister Productions Wilson Joined by Christian Sands, Marco Panascia, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and…