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Matt Wilson: 'I Hear Melody In All Rhythm'

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By day, jazz drummer Matt Wilson teaches his craft at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. By night, he practices it with legends like Lee Konitz at storied venues like the Village Vanguard. His band Arts and Crafts, which features Terell Stafford (trumpet), Gary Versace (piano, organ and accordion) and Martin Wind (bass), has a new album called An Attitude for Gratitude.

Wilson says he discovered the drums in the first grade, while listening to records by old-school timekeepers like Buddy Rich and Max Roach.

"When I heard Max Roach — I'll never forget it — it was a summer day," Wilson tells NPR's Guy Raz. "I heard that kind of playing, the drums really singing, and that's when it started to really come together."

Wilson says he isn't exaggerating when he describes percussion as "singing."

"For me, I feel that the drums are a strong melodic instrument," he says. "I hear melody in all rhythm."

The element of the drum set that carries that melody, Wilson says, is the ride cymbal.

"It's really part of the sound," he says. "Like Terell Stafford, for example: He says all the music really comes from the ride cymbal. He's a trumpet player. He says everything really emerges from that sound."

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