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…


Yukon 2016

Yukon 2016 Thumbnail

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.


Blog- May 2016

I am so excited to announce the release of a new solo piano album on October 14.  It’s called Matt Savage: Piano Voyages.  This new CD will feature both originals and standards, and the musical direction will be much more exploratory than the last couple of albums, but also more lyrical.

The new Matt Savage album is my first solo CD since my first recordings as a small child.  Piano Voyages and It’s My Request (the new Shota Ishikawa and Matt Savage duo record, released January 1, 2016) are also my first recordings in almost a decade to contain jazz standards.

There’s a lot to do to prepare for a new album… mixing, mastering, CD duplication, promotion and touring.  I will start all of this in late May; every album I have done has involved about 5-6 months of work post-recording.

But summer is coming up and I should start getting ready for a few big trips to the mountains.  The first one won’t require any flying; I will be returning to New Hampshire this week for a solo piano show in the beautiful town of Peterborough- a short drive from the farm where I grew up.  It’s going to be wonderful seeing some familiar faces and places again.

Later on, I’ll head to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the first time, as well as Denver, Colorado.  But that won’t even be the biggest mountain journey…

On June 8, I will be playing and speaking at an event in Whitehorse, in Canada’s Yukon territory.  It’s the Inter-Agency Network on Disability’s Inclusion Expo at the Canada Games Centre (a massive indoor athletic complex).  The performance isn’t even at UConn (University of Connecticut)… it’s really in the Yukon.  This will be my second trip to western Canada as well as my northernmost performance ever.

Happy May to all of you.

Blog- March 2016

It’s been a wild winter in terms of weather. Up here in the Northeast, we’ve experienced temperatures below zero and above 60 degrees. But that’s about to end with the arrival of spring… and a new album.

Over the last few months, I’ve been balancing two very different musical endeavors. One is the Matt Savage Groove Experiment, a new instrumental funk band (sometimes with vocal guests) that I started in Boston back in November. With influences ranging from Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters to Bob Marley to Daft Punk, we take rhythmic hit songs and add intense jazz-fusion improvisation to them. I’ve written a lot of new funk tunes for this band.

On the other hand, I’ve continued to play solo shows, especially at benefit events. And, I have some classical pieces too; I’ll play those in Cambridge, MA on Monday, March 14.

I’ve been exploring the more intimate side of jazz piano with bassist Shota Ishikawa; Shota has a new duo album with me called It’s My Request. That album is predominantly made up of jazz standards.

But my next album (to be released this fall) will feature solo piano material from a diverse range of composers (not just jazz standards) as well as recent original tunes of mine. It will be recorded this month in Brooklyn, New York, over two days. The recording process will be very spontaneous, and the final release will probably sound very different from what I am imagining right now.

After the recording, I’ll have some time to kick back musically, with Groove Experiment gigs in New York City on March 25 and April 17.

There’s a lot to think about as I enter this new and different period of my musical life. But I’ll have some time over the summer to get this album together… while continuing my Boston teaching schedule.

It’s going to be a great tour and I hope to see you very soon.

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.

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 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 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.