Matt Wilson’s GOOD TROUBLE is great jazz, with a message.

Palmetto Records

Matt Wilson – Drums; Tia Fuller – Alto Saxophone; Jeff Lederer – Tenor Saxophone and Clarinet; Dawn Clement – Piano; Ben Allison – bass

Matt Wilson’s GOOD TROUBLE is his 14th as a leader for Palmetto Records. This is my first exposure to drummer Wilson’s music, and I am already a fan.

GOOD TROUBLE celebrates Wilson’s 60th birthday, and commemorates John Lewis, the late Civil Rights leader. The album’s title was taken from a speech John Lewis delivered in Selma, Alabama 55 years ago.

Wilson assembled a band that sounds like they’re having a blast. The music is upbeat, boisterous, and joyful.

Geri Allen’s ‘Fireplace ’is the cheeky album opener. Pianist Dawn Clements’s playful Monkish lines and the serrated unison playing of saxophonists Tia Fuller and Jeff Lederer initiate things, but soon Fuller and Lederer are sounding like saxophone honkers from the jumpin ’R & B bands from the 40s and 50s. In addition to his many different rhythm patterns, Wilson’s time keeping is impeccable.

Bassist Ben Allison is all over his fretboard on Ornette Coleman‘ ’Feet Music.’ The dialogue between the two sax players is impressive. You will be tapping your feet to this one.

Wilson keeps a ringing cymbal going along with a hip syncopated beat on ‘Albert’s Alley.’ The slinky sax work would not sound out of place at a burlesque show. There are more piano Monkisms. Allison’s haunting bass sounds positively noirish.

The centerpiece of the album is the three-part suite, ‘Good Trouble.’ The suite starts with ‘RBG, ’a vibrant homage to the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The music has an upbeat Latin rhythm that culminates with the band chanting her name.

The second part of the suite is the tender ‘Walk With the Wind, ’taken from the title of John Lewis’s autobiography. The music is somber but, beautiful. Wilson’s solo is a drum salute to Lewis.

The triptych’s coda is ‘Good Trouble.’ The intro sounds like the Count Basie band is getting ready to kick butt. Wilson’s drums don’t stop rockin ’and rollin’.’ Both saxes are proselytizing. I don’t think gospel tent revival music could get any better.

I like the way Dawn Clements plays the piano. She is also a fine singer. John Denver’s ’Sunshine On My Shoulders ’may be an unexpected cover choice, but she does wonders with it. There is an innocence in her voice, and she has a lovely vibrato.

Matt Wilson’s GOOD TROUBLE is great jazz, with a message.

“Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” John Lewis