This is the debut album by Hartford (now New York) bassist Matt Dwonszyk. Matt is joined with some of his college colleagues with which he has developed a musical bond over nearly a decade. Besides being a vehicle for Dwonszyk’s front and center bass playing, he shows off his ample composing and arranging skills.
The opening number, Pecan Delight was inspired by Mom’s pecan pie. It’s a sweet introduction to the tunes that lie ahead. This swinging composition in the hard-bop tradition would be a natural fit on any Jazz Messenger album. The arrangements are spot-on and the ensemble playing is tight. Jonathan Barber on drums, kicks the rhythm ahead giving this tune an upbeat toe-tapping feel.
Theocity (Give and Take) takes on a more modern, complex compositional approach and has all the soloists stepping up to the challenge. Cuban Breeze has Dwonszyk showing off an intricate Latin beat underneath the tight horn arrangements and burning solos by trumpeter Josh Bruneau which is paired beautifully with Steve Davis’ smooth as silk sound on trombone. Weak Incentive begins with Renfro’s haunting guitar solo transforming into a sweet samba beat.
Saxophonist Jovan Alexandre adds a touch of freedom to stretch beyond the straight ahead foundation of Matt’s tunes. Taber Gable is a perfect accompaniment in his role in the rhythm section on piano, while showing a tasteful understatement in his solos. Taber lays down a beautiful solo on the ballad Irene. He also adds a composition to his friend titled Dr. Dwonz. Guitarist Andrew Renfro adds a his unique tone and esoteric sound to the ensemble.
The title track is a very hip take on the standard What a Wonderful World. Dwonszyk’s funky beat adds some bounce to this Louis Armstrong favorite. It’s an arrangement of a classic tune that would have put a gigantic smile on Pops’ face for sure. Shenel Johns delivers a soulful reading of the joyful, optimistic lyrics. It’s a delightful ending to a strong first album by this young promising artist.
Matt Dwonszyk‘s Wonderful World in CD or Digital download formats can be purchased from Truth Revolution Records on Bandcamp as well as all major streaming services.
Personnel: Matt Dwonszyk – bass, composer and arranger, Joshua Bruneau – trumpet and flugelhorn , Jovan Alexandre – tenor saxophone, Steve Davis – trombone, Andrew Renfroe – guitar, Taber Gable – piano, Jonathan Barber – drums, Shenel Johns – vocals, Ed Fast – percussion and Quito, Jorge Fuentes – percussion