Music Reviews
Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson’s Good Trouble

Good Trouble

Palmetto

Music making a political statement isn’t always the most fun music. Matt Wilson is definitely making a statement. His quintet and the album are named after a quote from the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis. Lewis described his career fighting for civil liberties as getting into “good trouble.”

For Wilson, good trouble is projecting a positive attitude in the face of troubling times. To illustrate his good trouble, Wilson draws on an eclectic and inclusive array of sources. In addition to the original tunes written by the band, they interpret “Feet Music” by Ornette Coleman and “Sunshine On My Shoulder” by John Denver. The swinging “Albert’s Alley” pays tribute to the saxophone legend Albert Ayler. The multi-part “Good Trouble Suite” is the heart of the album. As a whole, the suite celebrates community activism. “RBG” is an ode to the memory of feisty Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The song trails off with the band chanting, “RBG / honor her plea/serve your community.” “Walk With the Wind” and “Good Trouble” honor John Lewis. The suite also includes the previously mentioned “Feet Music” and “Sunshine On My Shoulder.” The suite ends with Wilson’s energetic composition, “CommUnity Spirit.”

Good Trouble is defiant. It’s is a call to action in these troubled times that makes standing up to racists sound like an invitation to a party. Maybe that’s a good way to face down fear mongers: with a song in your heart, feet following a beat and optimism going toe to toe with pessimism.

Matt Wilson


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