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Matt Savage pianist, composer, arranger, performer and bandleader has been connected with some of the biggest names in jazz since he began his career at the age of eight. Now age twenty-one, Matt has eleven albums to his name, the newest of which are A Bigger Celebration (September 17, 2013) and A Live Celebration: Kobe, Japan (January 14, 2014). A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Matt is relocating to New York, where hes pursuing a Masters degree at the Manhattan School of Music. He balances a full-time career with graduate work. In 2012, The Boston Globe heralded Matts coming-of-age success with a front page cover story entitled Growing Into His Gift, And Into Life.
Matt actually describes A Bigger Celebration, the first release in this two-album project, as a coming-of-age album& and a celebration of life and youth. The recording, chronicled over three days in Boston, is Matts most ambitious release to date. The goal, says Matt, is to capture lifes enjoyable experiences. Take A Bigger Celebration to the beach; play it in the car and add it to your party playlist. The album commemorates an important juncture in my life; it was recorded after a year of intense studying and touring that ended with my graduation. I was ready to break out and celebrate. I hope that comes through in the music!
The companion album to A Bigger Celebration, which is called A Live Celebration: Kobe, Japan, was released January 14, 2014. This jazz trio album was recorded during Matts first tour of Japan in September 2012. Two new compositions (including the three-part Session Suite) are featured, alongside audience favorites from the last two studio albums. Again, themes of celebration and youth are explored. The A Live Celebration CD has text in English and Japanese and is limited to 500 copies worldwide.
Long before attending college, Matt garnered an illustrious list of concert experiences. He has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Kravis Center, Dizzys Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Berklee Performance Center, the Regattabar, Scullers Jazz Club, the Iridium Jazz Club, the Edison Ballroom, the Jazz Bakery and MoMA. Hes appeared at many festivals as well: the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival (CA), the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, Heineken Jazzaldia (San Sebastian, Spain), the International VSA Arts Festival, the Costa Rica International Jazz Festival, the Burlington [VT] Discover Jazz Festival and the Toronto Abilities Arts Festival. Inspired by his travels throughout the U.S. and Canada, Spain, Japan, Costa Rica, Curacao, Aruba and Singapore, Matt is an active composer who has received countless titles and awards.
Over the years, Matt has performed and been interviewed on Late Night with Conan OBrien, Marian McPartlands prestigious Piano Jazz series on NPR and The Late Show with David Letterman. Following his performance on Letterman, the Matt Savage Trios Hot Ticket live album hit #11 on the JazzWeek radio charts and garnered the #2 position in Live Jazz sales on Amazon.com (behind only Keith Jarrett).
JAZZIZ, JazzTimes, All About Jazz and other respected music publications have all praised Matts talent. JAZZIZ touts Matt as a wildly inventive composer, interpreter and pianist no matter what his age. NPRs Piano Jazz concurs with Marian McPartland describing Matt as a young man (who) plays with grace, energy and originality. Jazz savant indeed!
Matts accomplishments are especially impressive given the fact that as a young child he could not tolerate music or sound in general. At the age of three, Matt was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a high-functioning type of autism. For the next four years, his parents immersed him in intensive intervention therapies. At age 6 ½, Matt completed auditory integration therapy, which drastically reduced his sensitivity to sound. With re-tuned sensory and social perceptions, Matt immersed himself in all things musical. His abilities flourished at a hyper-accelerated pace. Matt taught himself to read music and play piano literally overnight; he began formal lessons soon therafter.
Matts early studies focused on classical piano, but within the year Matt displayed an interest in composition and improvisation. For the next 3 years he studied both classical and jazz, not wanting to choose between the two. Local teacher Elissa Putukian taught him classical piano. Jazz studies took place at the New England Conservatory in Boston with Eyran Katsenelenbogen.
In early 2002, Matts family moved from the Boston area to New Hampshire. Matt lost access to both instructors, but taught himself for the next year and a half; he pored through volumes of classical music and spent hours practicing with play-along jazz CDs. Finally, in the fall of 2003, he was accepted as a private student with jazz guru Charlie Banacos. Charlie became one of the most influential people in Matts world, teaching advanced concepts in music as well as life lessons. Matt studied with Charlie until 2009, the year Matt entered Berklee. At the age of seventeen, Matt had already written and recorded more than 70 songs.
Matts first album was recorded in 1999, when Matt was seven and a half years old. The album, entitled One is Not Fun, but 20 is Plenty, was a project to raise funds for autism research; however, it was very well received. With Eyran Katsenelenbogen headlining the project, the collaboration garnered Matt an instant fan base as well as a meeting with jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Their 2001 meeting was chronicled on WGME-TV in Portland, ME. The Boston Globe picked up the story, and Matt was thrust into the public eye. Over the next few years Matts story would appear in numerous publications such as People, Time and Wired. Dozens of television appearances ensued, including The Today Show, The View and The Discovery Channel.
Brubeck stated, I was amazed at how talented he is. Amazing is the word I can tell you. I keep track of young talent in kids, and hes the first one that I met that young that was THAT talented. He has such a musical mind that it isnt music that he has to learn. It seems like hes such an advanced musician in so many ways already at 8.
At age eleven, Matt debuted at the famed Blue Note in New York and was signed as the youngest ever artist for Bösendorfer pianos. The following year, Matt appeared at Birdland with the legendary Clark Terry on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on sax, Jon Faddis on trumpet, Marcus McLaurine on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. In 2007, Matt played his first gig at the prestigious Dizzys Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2008, he debuted Big Apple Suite, a song from his album Welcome Home, at New Yorks Cachaça Jazz Club, earning praise from the Wall Street Journal as a phenomenally talented pianist and composer who demands to be taken seriously on purely musical terms.
With so many albums as bandleader and sideman and close to 150 songs in his catalog for ensembles of all size (including big band and orchestra), Matt keeps quite busy. Over the years hes performed with some of the biggest names in jazz, classical and popular music, including Chaka Khan, Bobby Watson, the Ellington All Stars, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, John Pizzarelli, Jeremy Pelt, Jerry Bergonzi, Max Weinberg, Valentina Lisitsa, Shawn Colvin and Al Stewart. Hes opened for/double billed with Wynton Marsalis, Danilo Perez, Spyro Gyra, D.D. Jackson, Dave Samuels, and others. Hes also performed alongside The Bad Plus, Arturo OFarrill, Jason Moran, Stefon Harris, Karrin Allyson and Lynne Arriale. And Matt has jammed OFF stage with Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Terri Lyne Carrington, JoAnne Brackeen, Tia Fuller, Hal Crook, and Donald Harrison. The list goes on.
Matts immediate plans include the release of A Bigger Celebration and A Live Celebration: Kobe, Japan, two upbeat collections of songs about fun and life and youth. For the next two years, Matt continues to navigate career and academia; after that, the focus is on career. Matt looks forward to teaching and mentoring the next generation of musicians.