Blog- April 2018

Hello friends.  I feel so excited writing this because I actually haven’t left New England in a long time.  But that’s going to change in a week or so as I hit the mid-Atlantic states…

First, however, I’ll be doing a special concert at the Lilypad in Cambridge on Monday.  This Monday is a Massachusetts holiday (Patriots Day/Marathon Monday), so it’s not just any ordinary weekday.  If you come early at 6 PM, saxophonist Aaron Gratzmiller (who also plays in the Matt Savage Groove Experiment) will open things up with a saxophone quartet show.  And at 7 PM, I’ll be premiering my Piano Sonata No. 2 in Bb Major, which is a very long, ambitious and folk music-inspired work that channels American classical composers such as George Gershwin and Charles Ives.

On Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st, I’ll be returning to Baltimore and Philadelphia for the first time in four years.  The Baltimore show will be solo piano at An Die Musik (a lovely second-floor arts “salon” with a record store below).  And the Philly show will be a trio concert with Lee Smith and Larry Marshall at Exuberance – a hidden spot that sells tickets through invitations and focuses on piano jazz.

Finally, I am coming to the University of Maine at Augusta on Thursday the 26th, which will mark my first performance in the Maine capital.  I will be doing this performance as a sideman with drummer Chris Dzengelewski, although the Matt Savage Groove Experiment’s saxophonist Aaron Gratzmiller is also playing.

I’ve really missed these places and I am looking forward to catching up to all my friends around the country.  There will be a lot of traveling involved but isn’t getting there half the fun?

On a side note, the Matt Savage Groove Experiment is going to release some new music soon, and the big announcement is yet to come…

See you real soon,
Matt

Europe 2017

Matt Savage and Alexis Sereduik

 

Matt Savage and Alexis Sereduik Matt Savage - Toledo View Matt Savage - Toledo Railing

In May and June 2017, I had a special opportunity to visit Europe for the second time – this time, in the Champagne region of France, as well as Paris, and Madrid, Spain.

This was for a special inter-continental recording project led by vibraphonist Thierry Collin and organized by drummer Alexis Sereduik.  I am so honored to be a part of this group – which actually doesn’t have an official name yet, but I will announce it soon :)

The other members of the quintet are vocalist Song Yi Jeon and bassist German “Choby” Scheufler, who also came from the Northeast (Boston and NYC).

I started this tour off in Champagne, specifically in the city of Troyes, which is actually pronounced the same way as “trois” (three).  Troyes is two hours away from Paris via train and the train ride goes through many beautiful wheat fields and farms.  And the vibrant downtown has many buildings that are about 500 years old.

We did all of the rehearsing for the recording at the studio, which is located in the basement of a private home just outside of Troyes.  It was indeed a very beautiful location for recording…  The tunes are all very complex and yet have a sense of folk melody throughout.

But we also had plenty of time to see the countryside, from the grand cathedrals to the rivers and ponds.  Alexis and I also visited the Devaux champagne winery in Bar-sur-Seine (yes, that’s the name of the town).

Once the recording was done, I had a gig in Paris with the Song Yi Jeon Quintet.  Song Yi went to Berklee with me and we have collaborated many times… so it was truly wonderful to be able to play together again, in two different quintets, in France!  The gig was at Sunset/Sunside, a two-jazz-club complex that extends two floors underground – and the rehearsal was in an even smaller basement.

After the obligatory visit of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, it was time to head to Madrid, where I played a very special gig with my fellow Manhattan School of Music alum Aurora Arteaga.  This was a special “Matt Savage Trio & Aurora Arteaga” collaboration project, with half of the tunes being instrumental and half being vocal.

The show was with Aurora’s friends Dario Guilbert on bass and Miguel “Pepe” Benito on drums, at El Plaza Jazz Club in downtown Madrid.  The concert was a success and I hope to be back soon.

I spent the last couple of days in Europe seeing the sights in Spain, specifically in the very hilly city of Toledo, which is about 45 minutes’ bus ride from Madrid and located on a very large hill.  The view from the top of Toledo is one of the most dramatic I have ever seen.

I miss Europe already and I just want to say thank you to the musicians and organizers who made all of this possible!

Matt Savage - Madrid poster Musee D'Orsay

Blog – June 2017

I still feel both elated and tired from my two international trips this May/June… one to France and Spain, and the other to Alberta, Canada.  This summer I’ll be focusing more on local New England gigs, including a return to the small town where I grew up (Francestown, NH) with members of my original trio.

My summer tour dates are included on the right side of this newsletter if you would like to attend a show.  But first I should tell you what happened during my big trips to Europe and Canada…

First, on May 23, I flew to Paris and then took a train to Troyes, France in the Champagne region.  This was for a special recording project focusing on compositions by vibraphonist Thierry Collin.  The band is a Franco-American quintet made up of musicians from both France and the Americas.  Drummer Alexis Sereduik organized the recording, and the other musicians who traveled to France from North and South America were Song Yi Jeon (vocals) and German “Choby” Scheufler (bass).

I was so thrilled to have been part of such a unique and free-spirited musical project.  We recorded several tunes in a home studio… these songs feature catchy melodies on top and complex time signatures underneath.  These tunes were recorded on video and will be released in the fall, with additional songs to be recorded in the future.

After that, I did jazz club performances in Paris (with the Song Yi Jeon Quintet) and Madrid (with vocalist Aurora Arteaga, bassist Dario Guibert and drummer Miguel “Pete” Benito).  In Paris I saw the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, as well as many sidewalk cafes.  And in Spain, I did a day trip with Aurora to Toledo – a medieval city on a huge hill with a great deal of religious architecture and art museums.  Toledo, Spain is definitely different from its Ohio namesake…

Then, last week, I traveled to Alberta, Canada for the Medicine Hat Jazz Festival.  This is a very well-attended local festival in a very beautiful and isolated location – Medicine Hat is a prairie city that’s 3 hours’ drive from Calgary.  There aren’t even any direct flights from Boston to Calgary, so traveling to Medicine Hat can take a while.

In Alberta, I saw the Calgary Tower (with views extending many miles through both the Rocky Mountains and the plains), as well as the town of Drumheller in the Canadian Badlands (known for its dinosaurs).

The concert was at Medicine Hat’s Esplanade Theatre – a double bill with vocalist and CBC radio host Tim Tamashiro.  Tim is a charismatic standards singer who knows how to excite crowds and I’m proud to have shared a stage with him.

That’s a lot of travel for the time being, so it still feels good to be back home for a bit… I’ll see you in Massachusetts and New Hampshire this July and August.
Matt

Matt Savage Groove Experiment – “Escalator Music”

Hello friends. This is my (almost) new funk band… the Matt Savage Groove Experiment!

We do lots of covers, but we also do new tunes of mine that are separate from my solo and trio compositions. This is a new original called “Escalator Music” – named because it’s meant to escalate the spirits, but also because the tempo is the opposite of elevator music.

This piece was recorded during our 15th show, at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 3), on February 20, 2017.

Matt Savage- “Got to Get You Into My Life” (Live in Boston)

I am excited to finally share with you a video from my fall 2016 Matt Savage: Piano Voyages CD release tour!

This tune is the Beatles classic “Got to Get You Into My Life”; it’s the opening track on Piano Voyages and the first rock cover I’ve put on CD. The concert was at the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA on October 19, 2016… it was the first show on the tour.

On the album, I play solo piano and keyboards; Erena Terakubo is a special guest alto saxophonist on one song.

Blog- December 2016

I can’t believe that it’s almost the end of 2016… time flies after a long tour. Next year is 2017 and I will turn 25 years old in May!

Since I haven’t been home too much in the last month, it feels good to spend some time back at my apartment in Boston.

On Monday, December 5, I had one of the most exciting performances of my life in New York City’s Times Square. This was the second annual “John Henry’s Friends” concert to benefit the Keswell School, which is in downtown Manhattan and is specifically for children on the autism spectrum. Because I taught at the Keswell School when I was living in New York (during graduate school at Manhattan School of Music), I was honored to be invited to this special event.

Steve Earle, Graham Nash (from Crosby, Stills and Nash) and Shawn Colvin headlined the concert; I opened the show by playing a 15-minute set, consisting of three tunes from my new album Matt Savage: Piano Voyages. The keyboard was hooked up to an impressive PA system, so I wasn’t really prepared for the different acoustics this time…

It was truly an honor to be in the company of such folk music legends and masters of melody. And it had been a long time since I’d spent a significant amount of time in Midtown… but it also felt good to be playing tourist again, as I felt like I’d been seeing the sights for the first time!

This is all coming right after the completion of my November solo piano tour, which had three legs: a West Coast tour (3 shows), an East Coast tour (3 shows), and a New England portion (with concerts in Worcester, MA and Old Lyme, CT).

The November tour started in Seattle, which I was visiting for the first time. The Pike Place Market (home of the original Starbucks) is definitely worth a visit, but the most gratifying part of Seattle has to be the view from the many large hills of that beautiful forest city.

Then there was a house show in the wine country of northern California (Sebastopol, CA), and a show at Santa Monica College (The Edye at the Broad Stage) near Los Angeles. On the East Coast, I returned to Virginia for performances in Charlottesville and Lynchburg, and then went on to play at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on the Upper West Side of New York City.

I’m going to conclude this year on a quiet note by visiting family and friends… but I have some big things planned for the spring, so I’ll let you know about those as soon as I can.

Happy Holidays to all and I hope to see you soon.

Matt

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Blog- October 2016

Today’s the big day; are you ready?

My twelfth album is being released today.  It’s called Matt Savage: Piano Voyages and it’s solo piano.  And I’m about to follow it up with my longest tour ever, on both coasts.  Everything is so exciting…

Piano Voyages is my most introspective and personal album, with eight new original compositions balanced with tributes to Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery and the Beatles.  There are many tunes about both Boston and New York, plus some electric keyboard interludes (including a “virtual blues”). Saxophonist Erena Terakubo is a special guest on one song.

My official CD Release Concert is at the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA this Wednesday (October 19th).  In anticipation, I’ve been appearing on radio stations in the area, including WUNR Radio International (Boston) and WICN (Worcester).

After that, I have a short break before I head on tour from November 3rd through 13th – which will be almost nonstop – as well as the 25th.  I’ll be on both coasts and I’m looking forward to visiting Seattle (WA), Lynchburg (VA) and Old Lyme (CT) for the first time.

There will also be two big “return to NYC” performances: one solo concert at the spacious and beautiful Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, and one performance at Midtown’s historic Town Hall theater (where I will open for Steve Earle, Graham Nash and Shawn Colvin).  It’s truly an honor to be in the company of such pop music legends.

After this fall, both the weather and the tour schedule might cool down a little…

It’s so much fun to be back on the road again – as Willie Nelson would say.
Matt

Matt Savage: Piano Voyages to be Released on October 14th, 2016

MATT SAVAGE: PIANO VOYAGES TO BE RELEASED ON OCTOBER 14th, 2016

Matt Savage: Piano Voyages is Matt’s 12th album, released on October 14, 2016.

Matt’s newest recording project, produced by Grammy-nominee Jonathan Wyner, is a solo piano album featuring eleven tracks.  There are eight new, original compositions including the Keith Jarrett-inspired “Green,” the optimistic Boston-to-New York funk tune, “Southie to Soho” and Matt’s nostalgic ode to his hometown, “Lullaby for Boston.”  For the first time since 2008, Matt has also included a few cover songs including an intense version of Herbie Hancock’s jazz standard, “Maiden Voyage,” and Wes Montgomery’s classic, “Road Song.”

Through natural and seasonal imagery, surprising tempo changes and occasional electronic interludes, the theme of rebirth is developed.   Matt describes Piano Voyages as a reflection on maturity.  “Collectively, each of these songs evokes a new chapter of life,” says Matt.  “And it’s a solo album because many of these journeys are individual experiences.”

Piano Voyages is Matt’s first new studio album in three years, following his acclaimed A Bigger Celebration, released in 2013.   A Live Celebration:  Kobe, Japan was the 2014 companion album to A Bigger Celebration, and it was recorded during Matt’s first tour of Japan.  Also in 2014, Matt scored, arranged and recorded the music for the full-length documentary film, Sound of RedemptionThe Frank Morgan Story, chronicling the late alto saxophonist Frank Morgan’s troubled life and eventual redemption.

Blog- July 2016

Things have been quite different this summer.  Even thought I’m still living in Boston, I’ve started with a new schedule of private students and am continuing to work on my new solo album Matt Savage: Piano Voyages.

The Matt Savage Groove Experiment recently played in Cambridge, MA again (at an underground music venue called the “Lower Level”).  It was the band’s eleventh show.  But I’m going to switch gears again this fall for the Piano Voyages CD release tour.  I’ll start the tour with a performance at Cambridge’s world-renowned jazz club, the Regattabar; this hometown show will also feature alto saxophonist Erena Terakubo.

In addition, I have to prepare for a short tour of the Rocky Mountains this weekend – first Albuquerque and then Denver.  The Albuquerque performance will be my very first time in New Mexico.  I’m excited to see this side of the Rocky Mountains, although I should get ready for potential 100-degree heat…

When I’m in Albuquerque on Saturday, I will be attending a 1 PM screening of Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story, before my 7 PM trio performance that night.  I will be doing a Q&A/discussion about my score for this jazz documentary, as well as my recent musical projects.  Click here for more information.

But this actually will not be my first trip out west this summer; I was in Canada’s Yukon this June.  You can read more about that trip here.

It feels really great to be able to escape the city for a bit.

Enjoy the weather and stay cool, my friends…

Matt

Yukon 2016

Yukon Mountains

Yukon Mountains Yukon RiverYukon River Bridge

On June 8, 2016, I played in Canada’s Yukon for the first time. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this trip changed my life. The Yukon is a truly untouched forest territory- with an exciting little city in the middle.

Things started on Sunday the 5th, when I flew from Boston to Montreal to Ottawa; I stayed overnight in Ottawa so that I could catch my morning flight to Whitehorse, Yukon. It was an exhausting flight itinerary and I almost missed one of the flights… I had a two-hour layover in Montreal that quickly became one hour when my flight from Boston was delayed. But I miraculously managed to go through customs and security and catch my connection, in time to meet my first roommate from college, who lives in Ottawa. We got some great Vietnamese food downtown and saw a statue of the late Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson.

The next day, I took the Yukon’s own airline Air North to Whitehorse; the plane stopped in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Canada’s northern portion is divided into three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), each with a significant portion of the population in the respective capital cities. The rest is wilderness!

Whitehorse is a small capital city of about 27,000 people, located on the Alaska Highway. Despite the fact that it is south of the Arctic Circle, there is still a “midnight sun” effect, with strong twilight even during the few hours of summer night. The temperature often goes above 70 and below 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, so one must prepare to wear different layers. There is not too much precipitation as the Yukon is in the West; however, the snow definitely piles up in the winter.

The infrastructure is quite strong in Whitehorse; the roads are smooth because people drive long distances, and Whitehorse has some of the only grocery stores for dozens if not hundreds of miles. Many people who visit Whitehorse have driven from locations as far away as Ontario and Texas. The Yukon’s capital is an artisans’ town; there are plenty of small music halls, gourmet restaurants, artists’ studios and more. I learned that very quickly from the first meal…

But this trip wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing contributions by everyone in Whitehorse- Hailey Hechtman from the disability support organization Teegatha’Oh Zheh, Leslie Peters from Autism Yukon, and Steve Gedrose from Jazz Yukon.

There was also an exciting interview with Dave White from CBC Yukon radio, who is an avid listener of all genres of music including jazz, and who has lived in the Yukon since 1989.

Other highlights of the trip included a vaudeville revue called the Frantic Follies (check out the Can-Can and the rather silly version of Pachelbel’s Canon), a trip to Carcross (short for Caribou Crossing; the town has fewer than 500 people but it’s home to a great burger joint and the “world’s smallest desert”), a ride on Whitehorse’s downtown trolley (which only goes about 5 MPH, but offers a great view of the Yukon River), and an intense hike by Miles Canyon (up and down, up and down; don’t lose your balance).

With all the sightseeing, it was hard to get into performance mode again… especially since the show was at Teegatha’Oh Zheh’s Inclusion Expo at the Canada Games Centre, a gigantic indoor athletic facility containing two hockey rinks, a soccer field, and a pool with a full-size water slide.

After the workout, however, I went back to the hotel, got dressed, and did a one-hour speech/performance, followed later in the evening by a 30-minute solo piano jazz set. This was definitely the northernmost show I have ever done.

I wish I had more time to spend up north, but I had to head back the next day.

The Yukon will always be in my heart and I will have to come back someday- whether for a performance or just to see the North. I feel like a Yukoner already even though it also feels good to be back home.

But I’m already preparing for another mountain trip- Albuquerque and Denver in July.

It’s going to be a “cool” summer and I hope to see you soon.

Matt