There were a lot of things going on…..

…. and, it seems, I was in the midst of it all, for a change. I have been recounting my fortune since the last posting and the best description is wide-ranging. I had a fantastic solo date during the Jazz By Night In Media celebration that takes over Media PA at this time each year — not only did I really dig deeply into some fantastic inspiration and play well but I had the opportunity to head out after ward and visit with some ‘fellow’ jazz artists, most notably Phyllis Chapell (Okay, she’s not exactly a fellow in the strict sense) and her duo partner Steve Jewett. It was almost like being in NYC and getting to hang with some of the legends after your gig. Phyllis is in a class by herself — I arrived to her singing Quizas Quizas Quizas in both English and Spanish and did get to hang and talk shop (and other topics) before I realized how tired I was. Wonderful evening, worth the trip each and every year.

Matt's 1975 Hagstrom Swede

Hagstrom Swede at rest

Arlyn Wolters

Arlyn Wolters at work

I worked up a duo rendition of Kate Bush’s Man With The Child In His Eyes with vocalist Arlyn Wolters for a Buddhist event — was I nervous? Yes — Kate Bush is one of the true greats in every way and when Arlyn and I proposed the idea I actually dove into it purely by instinct (or, possibly, blind idealism) and after reviewing several songs I suggested Man which met her instant approval. Then, I listened to two different versions by Ms. Bush herself and wondered ‘What was I thinking?’ Kate’s music is so personal, often intimate, and almost defies you to try and play it without sounding mediocre. I brought my trusty Lowden S27FC out and struck a balance between piano and violins which suited Arlyn’s amazing vocal. I got chills when she sang the first note — no lie! Believe it or not, I appreciate Kate Bush even more now.

Guitar Trio at Woodmere Museum

Left to right: Frank Butrey, Matt Richards, Richard Tucker

I did mention the guitar trio in my previous post — it was everything it could have been and even a bit more. Frank Butrey, Rich Tucker and I played together like old friends from the very first note and the rhythm section of Mark Johnson, Jeff Johnson and Cedric Napolean were top notch without a doubt. The show was sold out and we received a standing ovation. Despite all of my multi-guitar projects form previous years this was the first jazz guitar trio I’ve ever been part of and I am ready for more. And so are Frank and Rich. Stay tuned….

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with jazz vocalist Jay Katz. After hearing her sing the blues at a local session in October (where she modestly got up and told us she was ‘new here’ before knocking out everyone in attendance with her Summertime) we connected to discuss music and even attempted a Skype rehearsal (which went badly – the signal would freeze or skip). Jay joined my guitar duo with Tony Hughes for a great set of music. Videos are making their way onto YouTube and are included on my channel.

I will be joining both Arlyn and Jay in duos, each with a somewhat different focus. In years gone by, I usually avoided collaborating with vocalists – for one thing, I wasn’t that good and couldn’t truly accompany someone other than strumming chords blandly behind them. Additionally, there were a multitude of singers who characterized their part of the performance by requesting me to ‘nod when you want me to come in’. Both Arlyn and Jay are the real deal, musicians whose instrument is the voice, who know music and will make a duo something unique, exciting and very musical (which is the way I want it to be).

Getting long-winded, especially before dinner. I’ll have food and wine and I’ll be back.

Peace.

Matt

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