The genius mid-puberty
Reviewed January 2007
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.