Blog- January 2016

It’s so exciting to be starting this new year in my musical and professional life.

First of all, I appear on a new duet album with my bassist friend and fellow Berklee alumnus, Shota Ishikawa.  Released in Japan on New Year’s Day, the album is called It’s My Request: Live at Bar Request.  This CD is my first release as a sideman, my first collection of entirely jazz standards (except for one of Shota’s originals), and my first duo album.  So it’s really exciting to be doing this new kind of project.  It’s My Request was recorded in Kobe, Japan on September 3, 2015.

In addition, the funk band I started in November (Matt Savage Groove Experiment) is continuing its run of shows in the Boston area.

I’ve also reunited my original trio lineup with John Funkhouser and Steve Silverstein; we have recorded five albums together.  We’ll be playing in Methuen, MA this month, with special guest Mark Zaleski on alto and soprano sax.

It’s been a lot of work balancing solo/trio shows and Groove Experiment shows, but I’m hoping to continue both this year as much as I can.  I’ve composed lots of tunes and might even record them soon…

In short, it’s good to be back in the swing of things.
Matt

Blog- November 2015

Hello again, and happy fall. I have a busy season coming up, including a major performance in New York City on November 14 at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3 (located on the Lower East Side). The show was originally scheduled for the Whynot Jazz Room, but I’m happy to say that there’s an official new location for the gig. It’s a beautiful venue.

Plus, there’s a new exciting funk project coming up- the Boston debut show of my “groove experiment” (funk project), with an all-star cast of Berklee jazz musicians. I haven’t done “crossover” material like this before, so I’m really excited to be starting this new band. This show is on November 18 at 10 PM, at the Midway Cafe in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.

I’ve been recording a lot recently. A few months ago, I released a summer “fusion” single called “Go On.” But I also recorded another piece during the same sessions… an introspective ballad called “The Day Before.” This one is a trio song, and it has a totally opposite feel from “Go On.” Both songs feature piano and electronic keyboard solos. “The Day Before” will be released on November 13, 2015.

In September, bassist Shota Ishikawa and I recorded a live duo album (under Shota’s name) in Japan. This album is predominantly standards, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. We previously collaborated on our most recent album, A Live Celebration, which was recorded during my 2012 tour of Japan. But we now have a new album, and it’s going to be released in the coming months.

I have to sign off now to prepare for all these gigs in a row (including performances in New Hampshire and Canada during the same weekend). But it’s all excitement from here.

Hope to see you soon,
Matt

Matt Savage Trio- “Go On” (New song, live in Japan 2015)

This is the first YouTube video from my 2015 trio tour of Japan… it’s a new single called “Go On.” It really was exciting playing in Japan for the second time. And I hope to come back soon!

This same venue (Chuka Hall, Kobe) was the place where my album “A Live Celebration” was recorded back in 2012. So you might notice that the setting is a little familiar.

And the single “Go On” (released July 2015) is currently available at all digital stores.

Click here to listen.

Blog- September 2015

I’m so excited to have started the fall music season already. There are all sorts of new teaching and performance opportunities already, including a few club dates in Boston and New York (first stop: Cambridge, MA’s Lilypad on Monday, September 28). But all I can think about right now is how amazing my Japan tour was at the beginning of this month. This was my second trip to that country, and the tour included my very first show in Tokyo. And I recorded a new album…

I started by taking a 6 AM flight from Boston to catch a 9:30 AM flight from New York to Tokyo. It was a long flight, but that meant that I had lots of time to relax and catch up to some basic Japanese. Then I met Dai Murata (the promoter of my Japan tours) at Tokyo’s airport and took a train with him to the hotel. There’s a big surprise that always happens when one first arrives in Tokyo… Tokyo Narita airport is actually quite far from the city and in a beautiful rural area. So you can see lots of sights from the trains.

Of course, Tokyo is every bit the large and crowded city everyone knows it to be. There’s no room to put your bag anywhere in the subway as rush hour trains are packed from wall to wall with people. However, there’s often a lot of space on non-rush-hour trains, even in the center of the city. So you have to plan your travel carefully, but it’s all worth it as the culture, architecture, and nightlife in Tokyo (not to mention the food of course) is some of the most spectacular in the world.

The Tokyo show was at Half Moon Hall in the great nightlife area of Shimokitazawa, a neighborhood with narrow streets, many restaurants and a location away from downtown. I met drummer Kazumi Ikenaga (a Berklee College of Music alumnus from Tokyo who once taught in Iowa) for the first time, and said hello to my bassist friend Shota Ishikawa (we went to Berklee in Boston together) for the first time in years. The venue was really well hidden… I would call it a “loft” space in a house, except it’s a basement.

We were very short on time in Tokyo, but we managed to get in one last late-night dinner before our early morning Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kobe. It took only 2 1/2 hours to go from east Japan to west Japan, and the speed of the train really has to be felt to be believed. American trains often take a long time to get up to speed, but the Shinkansen gets to almost 200 mph right away for a truly incredible and quick trip.

That same day, the trio from the first Japan tour and the A Live Celebration album (Shota Ishikawa, drummer Tatsuhiko Takeda and myself) rehearsed for the rest of the tour. And that night, Shota and I recorded a live duo album (at Kobe’s Bar Request) under Shota’s name; this album will be released in the near future. The new album is very different from my releases as a leader; I’ve never done a duo album or one with a lot of standard ballads before. So this will be a very exciting change of pace and I’m proud to be a part of this project.

The rest of the tour was more relaxing after the hectic Shinkansen/trio rehearsal/duo show day. We played three trio shows in the Kansai area (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto), and I discovered two great new venues for the first time… Osaka’s upscale jazz club Azul and Kizu’s modern Kabuki theater called Izumi Hall.

I stayed four whole nights in Kobe during this tour (unlike the last tour), so I really got to see the home city of Shota Ishikawa and Dai Murata. It’s a beautiful and modern city, and it felt like home when I was there. The entertainment districts can be overwhelming, with restaurants stacked eight stories high in the center of town… but each place has a homey feel and Dai’s coffee shop Voice, with its hi-fi vinyl system that’s always playing jazz, is definitely a treat.

I hope to come back as soon as possible. And I want to wish a big thank you to Shota, Dai, Tatsu, Kazumi and everyone on both sides of Japan.

Matt

Matt Savage with Bobby Watson- “Big Apple Blues”

Here’s a song from my “Welcome Home” CD Release concert in New York at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

The concert was with a special quartet featuring the legendary Bobby Watson on alto sax, who also plays on the album. It was nothing short of a great honor to work with Bobby and to play with him at this concert.

The song is “Big Apple Blues,” the first movement from “Big Apple Suite.” And yes, the suite is on the “Welcome Home” album.

Joris Teepe is on bass and Peter Retzlaff is on drums.

Matt Savage with Bobby Watson- “The City Is Alive/Finale”

These two tunes are also from my “Welcome Home” CD Release concert  at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York…

They are “The City Is Alive” and “Finale,” the last two movements of my “Big Apple Suite.” The suite describes 24 hours of life in New York, and the last two movements are about the busy streets of the Big Apple during the daytime. You’ll recognize a familiar little tune at the end…

This concert was with a special quartet featuring the legendary Bobby Watson on alto sax, who also plays on the album.  Joris Teepe is on bass and Peter Retzlaff is on drums.

Blog- August 2015

It feels good to be back in the Boston area again. I’ve been teaching piano and general music classes to students on the autism spectrum at Applied Behavioral Learning Services in Newton, MA.  And I’ve been doing a lot of jamming locally and in New York City, where my score for the jazz documentary film Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story recently had its New York premiere at Lincoln Center.  But it’s time to start preparing for fall tour dates in Japan and the US.

First things first though.  This July, I came out with a new single called “Go On,” which is available on iTunesCD Baby and many other digital music stores.  This is a jazz fusion piece featuring a new quartet from New York- myself on keyboards, Brandon Wright on tenor sax, Tom Berkmann on bass and Richie Barshay on drums.  It represents a new “crossover” sound for my music, and I take both piano and electronic keyboard solos on the recording.

I’ve been going to New York City a lot this summer, not just for performances (I play with alto saxophonist Zac Zinger), but for a major event.  The documentary film Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story had its first New York showing on August 2 at the Sound + Vision Live festival, located at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  The film is about the troubled life of alto saxophonist Frank Morgan, and I did the score (it was my first full film score).  The film also features a Frank Morgan tribute band that includes Ron Carter, Delfeayo Marsalis, Grace Kelly and others; many of those great musicians were in the audience.

Right now, I’m preparing fall tour dates; I already have many fundraisers lined up and am confirming club dates in New York and elsewhere.  But the biggest event of all is this September… it’s my second Japan tour (the first tour was in 2012).  There are five shows this time (instead of four), and these will include my very first Tokyo show and a special live duo recording with bassist Shota Ishikawa, who is also on my live album A Live Celebration (recorded during the previous tour).

I have new originals and unusual repertoire choices already planned for the big trip.  And I’m looking forward to seeing what new surprises I will find in Japan this time; the food is always delicious and I’ll be taking the bullet train (Shinkansen) for the first time.

The tour is almost sold out; click here for more info.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of this beautiful summer.
Matt

Matt Savage’s Master’s Recital- “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel

Here’s another video from my Master’s degree recital at Manhattan School of Music… it’s a jazz rendition of a 20th-century classical music masterpiece, Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.”

This was recorded on April 10, 2015 in Manhattan School of Music’s Miller Recital Hall; it was the “grand finale” of the recital and was the only song of the show to feature all seven musicians at once. I hope to play this piece again soon, in this arrangement… although it’s a long one with a lot of instruments!

Click here to listen.

Musicians:
Matt Savage- piano
Adam O’Farrill- trumpet
Patrick Bartley, Jr.- alto sax
Ben Flocks- tenor sax
Mike Bono- guitar
Tom Berkmann- bass
Curtis Nowosad- drums

Graduation and More… (Blog- May 2015)

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Matt Graduation

It’s been such a long journey, but I am now done with my studies at Manhattan School of Music.  I am officially a Master of Music in Jazz Piano as of this May.  It’s an honor to have met and taken classes with so many jazz greats in New York City.  And, I am looking forward to playing and teaching even more this summer.

At the end of May, I’ll play two gigs (a fundraiser and a club date) in San Diego, California with a great bassist and drummer from there… and this summer, I’ll also continue teaching music to children with autism, at Applied Behavioral Learning Services in Newton, MA.

It’s been exciting living in Boston again, and it feels great to be a graduate, but there have been so many more highlights this spring besides my graduation.

In April, I opened for Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Shawn Colvin and others at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for an Autism Speaks fundraiser called “Light Up the Blues”.  I played my song “We Are Alive” with Crosby, Stills and Nash’s backing band.  It was incredible to share a stage with all of these music legends (and acting legends; Jack Black hosted).  They are all wonderful people.  And I saw the theater and downtown Hollywood for the first time; the Pantages is a beautiful Art Deco theater that actually hosted the Oscars for ten years.

My Master’s degree recital at Manhattan School of Music was on April 10; you can view a video from that recital here.

And the day after my college graduation, I performed in Corning, New York at the Corning Museum of Glass with bassist (and fellow Manhattan School of Music alumnus) Tom Berkmann and drummer Francisco Mela (who performs with McCoy Tyner and Joe Lovano regularly).  This was my first time playing with Mela and I’m looking forward to future performances.

It’s been a very busy spring, but I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family again this June.  And I hope to see all of you again sometime this summer.

-Matt

Blog- May 2015

Blog- May 2015

It’s been such a long journey, but I am now done with my studies at Manhattan School of Music.  I am officially a Master of Music in Jazz Piano as of this May.  It’s an honor to have met and taken classes with so many jazz greats in New York City.  And, I am looking forward to playing and teaching even more this summer.

At the end of May, I’ll play two gigs (a fundraiser and a club date) in San Diego, California with a great bassist and drummer from there… and this summer, I’ll also continue teaching music to children with autism, at Applied Behavioral Learning Services in Newton, MA.

It’s been exciting living in Boston again, and it feels great to be a graduate, but there have been so many more highlights this spring besides my graduation.

In April, I opened for Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Shawn Colvin and others at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for an Autism Speaks fundraiser called “Light Up the Blues”.  I played my song “We Are Alive” with Crosby, Stills and Nash’s backing band.  It was incredible to share a stage with all of these music legends (and acting legends; Jack Black hosted).  They are all wonderful people.  And I saw the theater and downtown Hollywood for the first time; the Pantages is a beautiful Art Deco theater that actually hosted the Oscars for ten years.

My Master’s degree recital at Manhattan School of Music was on April 10; you can view a video from that recital here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KpVtdOJgVo

And the day after my college graduation, I performed in Corning, New York at the Corning Museum of Glass with bassist (and fellow Manhattan School of Music alumnus) Tom Berkmann and drummer Francisco Mela (who performs with McCoy Tyner and Joe Lovano regularly).  This was my first time playing with Mela and I’m looking forward to future performances.

It’s been a very busy spring, but I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family again this June.  And I hope to see all of you again sometime this summer.

-Matt