Online since August 2002

The genius mid-puberty

Reviewed January 2007

Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap
By the Matt Savage Trio

Savage Records: 2006

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

If I were interested in writing one of those fast-paced, paperback pulp adventure novels, I think a good choice of names for the tough guy protagonist might be "Matt Savage." Three assertive syllables that say "man of action."

The non-fictional Matt Savage is a real man of action, a very young one, at just fourteen years of age. An extraordinary Jazz Man, a piano prodigy of enormous talents. And his story is an interesting one: diagnosed with autism at an early age, he was immersed in a study of classical piano training then switched his focus to jazz when he heard the music of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

"What I love about jazz is that you can break all the rules and be free," says Matt Savage.

On his fifth CD release (yes, you read that right; his fifth release), "Quantum Leap," the young Mr. Savage proves himself a remarkably worthy jazz artist, exploring the freedom of the form fearlessly. Playing in the piano trio format – he's joined here by longtime collaborators bassist John Funkhouser and drummer Steve Silverstein – Savage gets into a variety of styles with a youthful zest, from the Monkish stride of "Couch Potato Blues" – an original composition, as are eleven of the tunes on the disc – to George Shearing's ebullient "Lullaby in Birdland" into the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein classic, "All the Things You Are," where he sounds free and reverent to the tune at the same time. Savage can play quirky and off-kilter in one tune (the Monk influence), and eloquent and lush in the next, a young artist full of passion, chops and a wonderful technical proficiency.

Matt Savage's profile is on the rise – he's been featured on television ("20/20," "The Conan O'Brien Show," "The View" and "The Today Show," where he charmed Katie Couric's socks off and played the piano like a young man joyously possessed), his talent and potential are enormous, and "Quantum Leap" is a fine jazz CD, no matter what age the artist.

This is the real thing; keep Matt Savage on your listening radar screen.

Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.

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