Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thirteen reviewed by Mark Thompson

Matt Wigler
Vista Records
10 tracks/41:17

The title of this disc refers to the current age of keyboard prodigy Matt Wigler. I had several opportunities to watch this young man play on the Legendary R&B Cruise in January and let me tell you that he is indeed the real deal. One night he was on stage during a jam with the Tommy Castro Band and a number of other talented players including Deanna Bogart on sax. Wigler wasn’t nervous or star-struck. He simply sat down and played like a veteran, even switching from piano to organ at one point.

Bogart is a neighbor of Matt’s and the two have been practicing together for a couple of years. An accomplished keyboard player herself, Bogart has been a mentor to Matt and serves as the producer of the disc. Her sax playing adds some texture to two tracks on this disc of instrumentals.

The disc gets off to a rousing start with “Track Ten”, a boogie piece that quickly demonstrates the keyboard dexterity that Wigler has already developed. He doesn’t have any trouble with the faster tempo or with negotiating the changes. Bogart takes a brief solo on sax. And Matt’s dad, Steve, adds trumpet on the track. The second cut was composed by another fine blues keyboard player, David Maxwell. Supported by Scott Ambush on bass and Mike Aubin on drums, Wigler shows he has the abilities necessary to hold your interest when all of the focus is on his keyboard work in the trio format.

One of the highlights of the disc is finds Matt venturing into the jazz realm for an inventive rendition of the classic “Summertime”. We have all heard this song hundreds of times but Wigler’s approach features him improvising on the theme over a strong backbeat. His inventive playing has the sense of swing that is a staple of fine jazz performances. The fadeout at the end that came too soon for my tastes.

“Tension Boogie” is a Wigler original that provides some interesting variations on the standard boogie keyboard patterns. It will be interesting to see if Matt can continue to compose pieces that pieces that extend and expand the tradition, rather than simply recreating it. Bogart switches to electric piano for a duet on the “The Chicken”. If this cut is any indication of what it’s like when Matt and Deanna get together, I want to be there for the fun. Using a Nord Electro keyboard, Bogart lays down some funky licks in contrast to Wigler’s piano, the two very comfortable trading off lead lines.

Despite Bogart’s soulful sax, Wigler’s take on another classic, “Georgia”, never catches fire. He follows that track by switching to the organ for a brief workout on “Back at the Chicken Shack”. The pace slows down for an outstanding version of “How Long Blues” that simmers with intensity. Wigler again surprises listeners with a creative approach to a blues standard.

That track quietly segues into the closing number, which came from Bogart’s pen. “thrash Boogie” clocks in at over six minutes and serves as launching pad for Wigler to strut his stuff. The performance comes to a complete halt right in the middle. After several seconds of silence, the drummer hits it and Matt jumps in to prove once again that he can handle the faster tempos without a problem.

You might think that a thirteen year old can’t have enough experience to be the main focus of an all instrumental recording. In this case, you would be wrong. As the producer, Bogart didn’t try to surround Wigler with additional musicians. She knew who she was working with and provided Matt with the space to display his ample talent. Give this one a listen and get to know Matt Wigler. I’m sure that we will be hearing a lot more in the future about this excellent musician .

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