Matthew Stevens

Matthew Stevens, a New York City-based guitarist/composer, is widely regarded as one of today’s most promising jazz artists. He has been associated with NEXT Collective and Christian Scott. Woodwork, Stevens’ debut album as a leader is his first recording. This album shows Stevens’ diverse influences, his rich, warm sound and fluid, emotive playing as the leader of a stellar quintet that includes guitarist Gerald Clayton, Vicente Archer, Eric Doob, and percussionist Paulo Stagnaro. Stevens said that the album’s title reflects his almost tactile approach to music making. It’s a metaphor of how I perceive myself interfacing with sound. Woodwork is a collaborative act of creation with nature; it gives the impression of being unique or handmade. These raw materials are there regardless of how you use them. I respect that and allow the music to unfold naturally.” Stevens puts the sound of the guitar in the center of Woodwork. This creates a rich, full-bodied resonance that evokes the live concert experience. Stevens says that listening to a saxophone on a record can make you feel like you are in the room. I miss that feeling on the guitar. Your touch and articulation are crucial to your identity as an instrumentist. If you don’t have that sound, it can be difficult to convey your feelings. Stevens deliberately assembled his band so that the guitar could express its melodies. His strings shimmer with percussive interplay in opener “Ashes One”, then they weave a hypnotic groove with “Star L.A.” Stevens is a self-described guitar fanatic who fell in love with his father’s Jimi Hendrix records as a child. “Sunday,” a David Bowie cover, continues the genre-bridging mission undertaken by the NEXT Collective, while “Blasted” is a tribute to Wayne Shorter’s churning, ring, circular melody. Terri Lyne Carrington invited Stevens to perform at a fundraiser in support of Wayne Shorter: Zero Gravity. The all-star line-up included Shorter, Spalding and Marcus Miller, Lalah Hayaway, Corrine Bailey Rae as well as Lizz Wright, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lizz Wright, Lizz Wright, and Spalding. Stevens has the rare ability to combine singable melodies and cerebral complexity. This is evident in the “Sequel”, which shifts in tension, or the “Grown Ups,” as well as the “Gently,” a duo for piano and guitar that seamlessly interweaves the expressive lines of Clayton and Stevens. “Brothers,” performed in a trio with Archer, Doob and Doob, focuses on the sound of an acoustic guitarist, from its blossoming resonance to the scratching of fingers on the strings. The Clubhouse Studio in Rhinebeck was used to record much of the album. This studio also happens to have an early-70s Lowden guitar that Pete Seeger cherished, and which Stevens played with reverence on this song. Stevens states, “Collectively, we were each in a position to tap into what is important musically.” “In my own experience there’s nothing that feels more exciting than that.” from

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