Litchfield Jazz Festival & Jazz Camp



Interview with Artist-in-Residence Matt Wilson

Interview with Artist-in-Residence Matt Wilson
Date Posted: Jul 7, 2011
PR & Marketing Director Lindsey Turner sat down with Matt Wilson to talk about his role as Litchfield Jazz Festival's Aritst-in-Residence for a second summer. Learn about his inspiration, his connection to Litchfield Jazz Festival, and get excited to hear him perform for his 17th and 18th times on the Festival on Sunday, August 7th.
Category: Festival Landing Page
Posted by: lturner


Q: How do you feel about having been asked back for a second year as the Litchfield Jazz Festival’s AIR? 

I am thrilled. I enjoy being at the festival so much as a performer, teaching artist and now, for the second year, as AIR. I feel as being the AIR, I can be a liaison and have a chance to visit with the artists, the attendees, the press, the staff and the all of the production folks. Jazz is a family music. I want to help maintain and build the family.  We are all in this together.  Thanks Vita!

Q:  You will be moderating Artist Talks with NEA Jazz Masters Roy Haynes and Jimmy Heath as well as with Joe Lovano.  What should we expect?  What are you looking forward to here?    

Well, I just finished Mr. Heath’s extraordinary new autobiography, I Walked Among the Giants, and I have some ideas on different subjects to ask him. Though, with Mr. Heath, it is not hard to get the man speaking and charming with his wisdom and wit. Joe Lovano is someone I have had the wonderful pleasure to play and tour with a lot over the past 3 years. He is not only an inspiration but is a friend who is dear to me and my family. These two incredible artists, and genuine characters, are gems.  Speaking of gems, having the opportunity so sit down and visit with Mr. Roy Haynes is a wonderful opportunity as he is one of my personal drumming heroes. I am REALLY looking forward to that one and I have surprises in store.  Mr. Haynes is 86 and Mr. Heath is 84. They have such youthful outlooks and energy. That is a colossal inspiration for all, not just jazz fans.  Here I am, Matt Wilson from Knoxville, Illinois, speaking to these grand masters of this music I love so much.  Wow, this will be HUGE fun I know.

See the Artist Talk Tent Schedule here.

Q: Having spent time last summer on faculty at Litchfield Jazz Camp, what are you looking forward to returning as a teacher at the 2011 Litchfield Jazz Camp?

Allowing the players to emerge beyond the realm of musicianship and welcome them to discover their natural gifts as performers. We need characters that journey beyond the notes and invite the energy of the music, their fellow musicians and the audience to elevate the sonic proceedings. Less compliers and more surprisers is what the music wants AND needs.

Q: As part of your Artist-in-Residence role, you gave a holiday concert in Kent back in December.  Tell us about that and how the new CD, “Christmas Tree-O” has been received. 

It was a hit and surprised it all.  It was fun to record and the gigs were in the “zone”. Last summer at the LJF, Mr. Brubeck referred to the “zone” when he described where all of the positive elements of a performance merge and the experience is allowed to flow. The Tree-O , with Jeff Lederer and Paul “The Wonder Boy” Sikivie was always ready to decorate the tree, so to speak. Looking forward to this holiday season for sure and more holiday cheer!

Q:  Check out this Youtube video clip of your set with the MWQ at the Litchfield Jazz Festival in 2000 and give us some insight – what was happening? What’s with the wig?  Any fond memories…  

Lunacy and being “in the moment” personified. I have to say, every performance of School Boy Thug is an experience. People know when something is going down, when it is an event. THIS was an event. I want to experience events, not concerts. You dig?

Q: We LOVE the childlike and joyful approach you take with everything you do – where does that inspiration come from?  Your childhood?  Your children?  Somewhere else?        

A combination. My parents encouraged creativity and supported our artistic endeavors. I never want to lose my inexperience or the celebration of discovery in this music and in life. My kids are pretty funny so they are a huge inspiration. My lovely wife Felicia has been an inspiring figure in my life for almost 30 years. She is a primary source of balance for my lunacy. I am blessed to have her in my life. Through all that she has been through this year, battling leukemia and undergoing a bone marrow transplant, her positive smile and laugh inspires us all! 

Q:  Anything else you think the Litchfield Jazz Festival audience should know before they arrive?  

Try some new flavors.  If there is someone on the Fest you are not familiar with check out their performances. Visit with the performers if you see them walking around the grounds. The cats LOVE to hang and have the chance to chat.  Attend one of the workshops of the artists and have a question ready about what intrigues you about the music they offer. Hear the students perform and offer your support to their sonic statements. It will put a smile on their face for sure.

Also if you see Vita Muir please thank her for her love and dedication to this extraordinary event. (Notice I wrote event).  If you see a very pregnant Lindsey Turner thank her for all her work and wish her luck! If you spot Don Braden or Albert Rivera shake their hand and express your appreciation for their devotion to the Litchfield Jazz Camp.  Enjoyed the sound? Thank the soundman. 

Like I suggested last year, let’s get the love swirl happening.  We all love this music and that is why we gather. So please reach out, connect and unite!

All We Need is Love,
Matt Wilson

To learn more about Matt Wilson check out his profile here.  See him perform on Sunday, August 7th at noon with the Dena DeRose Trio and at 3:30 with his Quartet plus Strings.  And check him out leading Artist Talks in the Artist Talk Tent on August 6 & 7. 

To get your tickets for Litchfield Jazz Festival Aug 5-7 click here.

For more visit,, or call 860-361-6285.

Date Posted: Jul 7, 2011