Saturday, December 05, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Gathered 'round the Christmas Tree-O

This week's videos feature drummer Matt Wilson and his Christmas Tree-O, who will be playing Wednesday, December 16 through Saturday, December 19 at Jazz at the Bistro.

The holiday-themed project, one of several bands led by Wilson, played a one-nighter in St. Louis last year at Joe's Cafe, and Wilson, who grew up a couple hundred miles north in Knoxville, IL and has a brother living here, has played here a number of times in recent years with his other groups.

Most recently, his quartet plus guest keyboardist John Medeski performed the Bistro in January of last year, which prompted StLJN to do a Saturday video showcase spotlighting Wilson's music and career.

Christmas Tree-O, which includes Wilson's self-described "alter ego," saxophonist and clarinetist Jeff Lederer, and bassist Paul Sikivie, first gigged as a band in 2009, and recorded an eponymous album the following year for Palmetto Records. With positive response from audiences and critics, Wilson has made it an annual tradition, this year doing 16 dates with the group including the four they'll play in St. Louis.

You can get a good idea of the Christmas Tree-O method of interpreting holiday favorites in the first video up above, which is the full "Tiny Desk Concert" they did for NPR Music back in 2011.

After the jump, you can see a couple of short promotional films that Wilson made to promote this year's Tree-O dates, in which he displays his well-known sense of absurd humor to spoof a couple of favorite holiday movies.

The description of "It's a Tree-O Life!" says, "Mr. Potter wants to monopolize the Christmas music scene in Bedford Falls but Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O is his only obstacle. Will he convince Matt Wilson to disband the trio and plays drums for his band?"

After that, Wilson offers his variation on the 1980s holiday staple "A Christmas Story," in which "An adventurous young music fan's dream to get the Matt Wilson Christmas Tree-O cd as his #1 present comes true despite folks around him insulting that the music will 'burn his ears out.'"

Below that, you can see an excerpt from a 2012 Christmas Tree-O performance outdoors in Madison Square Park in NYC, featuring the end of a raucous version of Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here" plus a rendition of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)."

As a stocking stuffer, there's a show by Wilson's quartet, with Lederer, bassist Chris Lightcap, and cornetist Kirk Knuffke plus John Medeski guesting on piano. Embedded here in two parts, it was recorded on March 19, 2015 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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