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Jazz Monthly Feature Story
Matt Savage

matt savageDave Brubeck calls him “amazing”…Chick Corea says he’s “delightful and inspiring.” At his debut at the Blue Note in NYC, he combined “all forms of harmony resolution, not just rhythmic or counterpoint, but goes beyond to levels once visited by Mozart.” Child prodigy/jazz pianist, Matt Savage, has just turned 17 and continues to wow audiences with his extraordinary talent.

 

Jazz Monthly.Com featured Jazz Master John Levy who celebrated his 97th birthday in April, and this month, we are pleased to feature Matt Savage, who has demonstrated at his young age that he has the talent, drive and inspiration to be a shaper of jazz as we know it and will know it in the years to come.

 

Matt began his professional career worldwide at the age of 8, performing in ensembles of various size and in solo concerts. He’s the leader of the Matt Savage Trio, gigging at all the top venues including The Kennedy Center. Matt has performed at such festivals as the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, the VSA International Arts Festival, the Burlington [VT] Discover Jazz Festival and the Toronto Abilities Arts Festival and he’s played worldwide, including all over the U.S. and Canada, Curacao, Aruba and Singapore (for the President of Singapore).

 

Matt Savage’s credits are a Who’s Who of appearances and recordings. At 8, he played piano for Dave Brubeck and jammed at a sound session with Chick Corea.  He played for McCoy Tyner and jammed with his sidemen, Avery Sharpe and Al Foster. He made his debut at the Blue Note at age 11. The following year he debuted at Birdland and performed with Clark Terry and Jon Faddis on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on sax, Marcus McLaurine on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Matt Savage has performed with Bobby Watson, Marian McPartland, the Ellington All Stars and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra.  He’s performed with Chaka Khan, Max Weinberg and Ben Vereen and accompanied folk singer-songwriters Al Stewart and Shawn Colvin.  Matt has opened for/double-billed with Wynton Marsalis, Danilo Perez, Dave Samuels, Alain Mallet, Alon Yavnai, D.D. Jackson, Seth Kaufman, The Bad Plus, Arturo O’Farrill, Jason Moran, Stefon Harris, Karrin Allyson, Lynne Arriale, John Payne and Charlie Adams. He will open for Eldar Djangirov in June.                                 

In 2007, Matt made his first appearance at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center and appeared on Marian McPartland’s popular “Piano Jazz” syndicated National Public Radio (NPR) series. Later that year, he performed with the Matt Savage Trio at Tufts University’s prestigious Distler Hall, where he recorded his eighth and most recent jazz album “Hot Ticket: Live in Boston.” In 2008, when Matt was 15, he appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman,” released his newest CD, hit #11 on the JazzWeek radio charts, garnered the #2 position in LIVE JAZZ sales on Amazon.com (behind only Keith Jarrett) and signed an international sub-publishing deal with SONY/ATV. Matt’s other CDs include “One is Not Fun but 20 is Plenty,” “Live at the Olde Mill,” “All Jazzed Up,” “Groovin’ On Mount Everest,” “Chasing Your Tail,” “Cutting Loose” and “Quantum Leap.”

 

In addition to his recordings, Matt has been featured in major publications worldwide including the Wall Street Journal, JAZZIZ, Time Magazine, JazzTimes, Der Spiegel, WIRED, American Airlines’ American Way magazine (In the Company of Genius) and PEOPLE Magazine. Matt made the cover of Time for Kids Magazine in its World Report Edition. He even has his bio listed in Wikipedia! Matt has appeared on numerous television shows (including NBC’s Today Show, Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brien), been interviewed by Barbara Walters and Katie Couric and appeared in the National Geographic Channel film entitled “Beautiful Minds,” Part II “Struck by Genius.” He’s been the focus of documentaries worldwide in the U.S., Germany, Japan and the U.K. Matt’s most notable radio appearances include NPR’s “Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland,” “All Things Considered” and “Jazz Piano Christmas,” broadcast live from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

 

What makes Matt Savage such an extraordinary young man? One reason is the fact that Matt was diagnosed at age 3 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a form of autism. For most of his early years Matt did not like noises or music, even though his mother, Diane, had a piano in the home. Then Matt participated in a specially designed program to reduce his sensitivity to noise. At about the same time, his parents bought him a toy piano. At age six, Matt began playing the keyboard and taught himself to read music, rapidly advancing to perform on the family piano. The musical door opened for Matt. After a year of classical piano lessons, he had occasion to hear jazz performed at a local fair. This form of music immediately appealed to Matt.  Thus began Matt’s journey with jazz, a journey that has taken him far from his secluded world of autism.

 

 

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