Noël au piano avec Matt Herskowitz
4-C Rue Maple, Sutton, QC, Canada
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Uniquely combining the superlative technique of a classical virtuoso with his prowess in jazz, world music and free improvisation, pianist, composer and arranger Matt Herskowitz has carved out a unique and personal voice in music. Over the course of the last decade, Matt has produced a series of critically-acclaimed recordings, premiered his works in settings from New York's Central Park to Germany's Köln Philharmonie, collaborated with top classical, jazz and pop artists, and has performed at music festivals across the globe.
A graduate of The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, Matt is originally from Rensselaerville, New York, and has made Montreal his home since 1999. A classical pianist for over 20 years, Matt’s interest in jazz began while studying at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he ‘apprenticed’ with seasoned jazz musicians performing in bars and jazz clubs. At age 30, Matt moved to Montreal and decided to focus on jazz, with a detour into pop music along the way with the celebrated pop diva Lara Fabian. His focus soon shifted to his own compositions, combining his experience in jazz, pop and “World” music with his skills in contemporary classical composition and performance. But his love for classical music never left him, and in 2013 he began making arrangements of Bach, Schumann and Chopin in a variety of jazz styles, all while retaining the integrity of the original pieces, something uniquely suited to him as being equally versed in both genres.
Matt’s latest solo project, Chopin - Etudes en jazz, features his exciting new vision of Chopin’s great masterpieces, weaving jazz language and improvisation into Chopin’s original music. This project was filmed during a concert at Salle Bourgie in Montreal last year and is now available on Medici.tv.
Matt’s last solo album release, Mirror Image (Justin Time Records, 2019), is a unique and personal exploration/reconciliation of his classical and jazz alter-egos, with pieces by Ravel, Satie, Schubert and Gottschalk, as well as several original compositions. Mirror Image has already received wide critical acclaim, and is consistently ranked a favourite among progressive jazz stations in the US and Canada. His 2012 solo release, Matt Herskowitz Upstairs (Justin Time, 2012), was featured in Downbeat Magazine’s Editor’s picks: “Throughout these eight tracks, [Herskowitz] displays touch, power, artistry and chops along with a firm grasp of the daring needed for a great performance.” Upstairs follows Matt's critically-acclaimed, Juno-nominated World music fusion album Jerusalem Trilogy (Justin Time, 2010) which features the pianist's original compositions and arrangements in his signature synthesis of contemporary jazz and
classical styles, combined with a unique blend of Arab and Jewish grooves. Among the album's fans was the late great Dave Brubeck, who commended Matt on the recording, saying: “Congratulations! You have transformed the concept of ‘World’ music as I conceived of it half a century ago. You have carried it further than I could imagine.”
In 2017 Matt was featured on the BBC show Music Matters: Spirit of Bach to discuss his innovative arrangements of Bach, which can be heard on his albums Bach XXI (Avanti Classic, 2015) and Bach Reimagined (Enja Records, 2018). In 2009, Matt premiered his piano concerto, Undertow, with Absolute Ensemble, a cross-genre chamber orchestra who commissioned the work, at the Köln Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany in a concert broadcast on WDR German television across Europe. After a performance in Toronto’s Koerner Hall, the Globe and Mail wrote: “Pianist Matt Herskowitz's 'Undertow' took the F-minor Sinfonia, the spookiest of all the Inventions, and rode its sliding bass line through a secret-agent opening, a section of rugged math-rock that had me thinking of King Crimson, and a grand passacaglia that drew out the tragic implications of Bach's original. It ended on the brink of a high tutti cadence, and I would have been happy to hear the whole 20-minute piece repeated right away.” Matt’s 2007 solo release, Matt Herskowitz Plays George Gershwin, featuring Matt's original solo arrangements of the Concerto in F, Cuban Overture and Rhapsody in Blue, was nominated for Quebec's prestigious Prix Opus, and has received accolades from jazz and classical critics alike.
As an arranger, Matt has collaborated with many noted artists and producers. In addition to his hugely popular Bach à la Jazz, which he arranged and performed for the animated film The Triplets of Belleville, Matt and his trio were featured on Barry Manilow's In The Swing of Christmas, which was nominated for a Grammy award for “Best Traditional Pop Album”. Matt has also collaborated with pop diva Lara Fabian, earning thousands of new fans from his solo piano piece, Piano Nocturne, on Lara’s album Nue (Polydor/Universal, 2001). Several of their songs have been recorded and performed by various French pop artists, including Nolwenn Leroy, Daniel Levi and George Perris.
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