Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Matt Savage

In 2000, when Matt Savage was just 8 years old, he played piano for Dave Brubeck and jammed at a sound session with Chick Corea and his sidemen, Avishai Cohen and Jeff Ballard. The following year he was invited to a soundcheck to jam with jazz great McCoy Tyner and his sidemen, Avery Sharpe and Al Foster. In 2003, at the age of 11, Matt debuted at the famed Blue Note in Manhattan. The following year he debuted at Birdland, performing with the legendary Clark Terry on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on sax, Jon Faddis on trumpet, Marcus McLaurine on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. By 2005, Matt had performed twice with Chaka Khan. News of Matt Savage's talent has spread throughout the jazz world. As jazz great Bobby Watson said, “Besides being an extremely gifted pianist and improviser, Matt has the musical instincts of a person many years older. To me this is the most incredible characteristic about Matt.”

True to that statement, Matt hasn't been just jammin'with the greats for the past six years. He's been using those instincts to amass an impressive body of original work that has gained the respect of his peers and fans alike. Quantum Leap (Savage Records), the superb new album from The Matt Savage Trio, features Matt on piano with his adult sidemen, John Funkhouser on bass and Steve Silverstein on drums. Quantum Leap also represents the Trio's first album to receive worldwide distribution via a new deal with Palmetto Records (MRI/RED). Produced by Diane Savage, and to be released in September of 2006, the new album will mark the Trio's return to Manhattan for a special concert release party.

What I love about jazz," says Matt, "is that you can break all the rules and be free. Matt has taken that freedom to new heights on Quantum Leap, showcasing versatile techniques on such original compositions as Curacao," Blues in 33/8"and "Serenity." He has also featured several standards on the new album, including "All the Things You Are" (Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II), "Monk's Dream" (Thelonious Monk) and A Child is Born" (Thad Jones), all delivered in Savage's unique interpretive style. Quantum Leap is the fifth release from The Matt Savage Trio. Their acclaimed previous album, "Cutting Loose, was released in 2004 and marked the Trio's first performance at Birdland. Cutting Loose was preceded by “Chasing Your Tail, "Groovin' on Mount Everest"and their debut 2001 album, All Jazzed Up.

From the very beginning of Matt's music career, despite his young age, the jazz community embraced this amazing young talent. Following his 2000 performance for Dave Brubeck, WGME-TV in Portland, Maine aired Brubeck's prophetic comments: I was amazed at how talented he is. Amazing is the word I can tell you. He has such a musical mind that it isn't music that he has to learn. It seems like he's such an advanced musician in so many ways already at 8.”

Matt was just 6 1/2 when his musical journey began. At that time, he taught himself to read piano music and immediately began studies in classical piano. He switched to Jazz after discovering the music of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Matt studied for 3 years at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and recorded his first solo album in 1999 in collaboration with the New England Conservatory, becoming the youngest child to perform at the NEPTA “Gifted and Talented"classical recitals in 2000.

Matt's second solo album, “Live at the Olde Mill,” was released in 2001, a year which proved pivotal in Matt's career as media recognition began to accelerate. Sparked by a live radio performance and interview on Boston's WERS 88.9 and an excellent review in “The Boston Globe," Matt began selling out concerts. That same year, The Matt Savage Trio released their live concert album, “All Jazzed Up,” and radio stations across the country were broadcasting performances and interviews with Matt. He appeared on “Lifetime Television"and did an interview with Barbara Walters for ABC's “20/20.”

The media momentum continued in 2002. In February, he received his first album review on the “All About Jazz" website and was heralded as "phenomenal." National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" aired a detailed piece about Matt that became one of the most listened to programs of the year and won numerous broadcast journalism awards. The Matt Savage Trio performed at the famed New Orleans Jazz Festival, and Matt appeared on "The Today Show," "The View," "Montel" and "The Discovery Channel."

In May 2003, The Matt Savage Trio released their third album,"Chasing Your Tail,” recorded live at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Matt was signed by Bösendorfer pianos, becoming the youngest person and only child, in their 178-year history, to become a Bösendorfer artist. In November of 2003, The Matt Savage Trio made their debut at the Blue Note, documented in a Time magazine article citing Matt as the youngest performer to have played the famed venue. Matt ended the year performing with more jazz greats at the Kennedy Center for NPR's live broadcast, Jazz Piano Christmas,” sharing the stage with The Bad Plus, Arturo O'Farrill, Jason Moran, Stefon Harris, Karrin Allyson and Lynne Ariale.

Awards for Matt's musical accomplishments have been many. Among them, Matt earned ASCAP's 2004/2005 "Young Jazz Composer"award for his composition, “The Wild Rose,” from the Trio's "Cutting Loose" CD. He received the award at the ASCAP Jazz Wall Convention in New York, being honored along with living legends Neal Hefti, Shirley Horn and John "Bucky" Pizzarelli. This year, he received a second award from ASCAP as one of their 2005/2006 "Young Jazz Composer" winners for his composition, "Serenity." He not only received his award at this year's Jazz Wall Convention, but he performed "Serenity for the jazz greats attending the coveted event.

Throughout Matt's amazing young career, there have been numerous performances and appearances to support children and adults with disabilities and to support community outreach efforts to educate people about autism spectrum disorders. It is no small wonder, considering Matt has made an extraordinary emergence from his own autism, diagnosed at the age of 3. At that age, Matt could not communicate easily or withstand noises, not to mention music. His parents enrolled Matt in a special program for children with autism that involved patient training and a strict dietary and vitamin regime (the DAN Protocol). From age 3 to 7 Matt underwent speech therapy and occupational therapy. At age 6 1/2 he did a special auditory integration therapy to retrain his ears and make them less sensitive to sound. Matt was able to retune his sensory and social perceptions and his musical skills flourished. By 7 1/2 he had recorded his first album. In a remarkably short amount of time, Matt has emerged as an artist who is comfortable performing in front of audiences of all sizes. He is a welcomed, articulate and outgoing personality on national television and radio shows.

Matt's journey has been documented in a worldwide broadcast in 2006 of a film entitled Beautiful Minds - A Voyage into the Brain, a three-part series produced by German ARD television. Another highlight of 2006 was Matt's special appearance in April at MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, in conjunction with the premiere of the three-part documentary Ellington by Keys"produced by award-winning filmmaker, Gary Keys. Several of the compositions performed by Matt were from original Ellington manuscripts that had never before been published or performed.

Matt Savage keeps good company with the music of the jazz greats, past and present. His enormous respect for their legendary bodies of work inspires and fuels his own unique jazz compositions and interpretations. As People Magazine astutely wrote in 2002, "...jazz phenom Matt Savage unlocks a door to genius using 88 keys." With the release of each album, Matt has challenged genius by exploring and expanding his creative boundaries. At the age of 14, Matt continues to have vision and technique beyond his years as a composer and musician. Quantum Leap launches yet another chapter in Matt Savage's musical evolution as fans celebrate his prodigious rise in the world of jazz.


Myself said...

I have seen Matt's story and his perforamnce on TV -- and am humbled. Such an amazing talent!

Armand Rousso said...

It's lift up the questions about intelligence. Is it in our nature or do we learn to be intelligent.