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Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts 

When: Fri., May 4, 9 p.m. and Sat., May 5, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $12
Hardly anybody makes jazz sound like as much fun to play as drummer and bandleader Matt Wilson does—he never lets propriety or attention to technique get in the way of a good time. But the excellent new album by his long-running quartet Arts & Crafts, An Attitude for Gratitude (Palmetto), is touched with sobriety: Wilson dedicates the patriotic ditty "Happy Days Are Here Again," which the group turns into a torchy ballad, to his wife Felicia, who has regained her health after a stem-cell transplant to combat leukemia. And trumpeter Terell Stafford gives a brief a cappella reading of the standard "There's No You," a tribute to the group's original bassist, Dennis Irwin, who died in 2008—he used to sing it at gigs from time to time. (Irwin has been replaced by Martin Wind.) Throughout the album, Stafford steals the show, turning in a sensitive, lyrical performance on "Happy Days" and lending his crisp, bluesy articulation to Wilson's hard-swinging "No Outerwear," a tune based on the changes of another standard, "Out of Nowhere." That's not to say he's grandstanding—he's a monster player, sure, but he's also the only horn man in the band, and with nobody else on the front line he's often the focus of attention. An Attitude for Gratitude mixes original tunes—by Wilson and by pianist Gary Versace, who wrote the hooky, deeply grooving "Poster Boy"—with songs by Nat Adderley, John Scofield, Weather Report, and Simon & Garfunkel. This eclectic program demonstrates Wilson's catholic sensibilities as well as his sense of fun—and when he takes the stage, his freewheeling spirit shines through even more clearly. —Peter Margasak

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