May 27, 2024

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Interview with Matt Gordy: Be With Me – a living out of music, but it wasn’t going to be easy: Video, new CD cover

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Matt Gordy. An interview by email in writing. – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

 When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of? 

Matt Gordy: – I was born in Buffalo, NY and grew up in Tonawanda, a small suburb.  I started taking piano lessons at age 7. My father was a doctor and he played a little bit of piano, guitar and flute. We moved to Newton, MA in 1965, a suburb of Boston. I continued my piano study and also switched to drums at age 11. I began private study of classical percussion all through high school.  I attended New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and studied with Vic Firth, timpanist of the Boston Symphony..  I was also in the Afro-American Studies Dept. at NEC and studied and played with Jake Byard and George Russell. I probably realized at an early age I could make a living out of music, but it wasn’t going to be easy.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

MG: – I don’t know if my sound has evolved that much, if anything it has matured and been refined.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

MG: – For drums, I still practice ‘the ritual’ which I had learned from Alan Dawson.  I also practice the 8 ways as prescribed by Dawson using the Syncopation Book by Ted Reed.

For piano I constantly go over the notebooks of exercises and info given to me by Charlie Banacos, a music guru teaching in Boston.  I studied with him 11 years face to face.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

MG: – I think I have developed a better ear over the years and I am trying to use it by composing new material.

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

MG: – I believe in a lot of preparation on my part. I prepare tune order, tempo, etc.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: The Matt Gordy Jazz Tonite Sextet – Be With Me, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

MG: – My last CD, Eclipse, was from a live recording at the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA. That was from 2000.  So it’s been awhile for this new project.  I wanted to use both originals and some standards with my own twist of arrangements. For tunes like You and the Night and the Music, Soul Eyes, Wheatland I took transcribed iconic solos and arranged them for the horns, mostly in unison. Spring Ahead is a contrafact of Spain by Chick Corea. Be With Me is based on Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You.

New CD – 2022 – Buy from here


JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

MG: – I had been playing with Ron Stout, Ido Meshulam and Chris Colangelo for about 7-8 years.  Alan Pasqua I have known for 50 years since we attended NEC together.  Alan suggested Jeff Ellwood which was a great fit. Sherry Williams and I have worked together for the past 12 years.

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

MG: – It should be about 50/50 maybe leaning more towards Soul.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

MG: – Absolutely

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

MG: – Too many to count …

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

MG: – Yes, they are old, however there are gems out there that can still be ‘mined’.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

MG: – I listen.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

MG: – That musicians can actually make a living from their craft and not be ripped off and exploited by Spotify, etc.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

MG: – Everything from Prokofief to Gershwin to Stravinsky to Duke Ellington.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

MG: – There are such amounts of beauty in the world, let’s express it through music.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

MG: – Back to 1948-53 to NYC to hear EVERYBODY within a block of one another

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

MG: – Good questions.

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

MG: – I have given free concerts. My expectations would be to help promote my music to the rest of the world.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Be With Me | Matt Gordy

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