Matt Olson Quartet
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Matt Olson Quartet


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The best kept secret in music


"CD Review"

Matt Olson is Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies at Furman University in South Carolina. Olson’s extensive and impressive work history includes performances with Randy Brecker, Kurt Elling, Benny Carter, Kevin Mahogany Chris Vadala, Doc Severinsen, Manhattan Transfer, Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Wayne Newton, Aretha Franklin and The Temptaions to name a few. He wrote an article on Jerry Bergonzi’s approach to intervallic improvisation. The article appeared in Downbeat Magazine in 2006. Some of his personal inspirations include Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Jerry Bergonzi, Steve Grossman and Rich Perry.

Olson is a master of jazz improvisation – this is audible from the start of the album, entitled “Vortex.” Throughout the entire listening experience you are given a feeling of being at a small intimate venue in which you have garnered a front row seat. There is a truly collaborative element to this album. The opening self-titled track, “Vortex,” is just that--a whirlpool of sounds and eclectic improvisations. Dom Moio provides a steady balance on drums amidst Olson on tenor saxophone and Sielert on trumpet. Mike Kocour on piano is stunning. Olson’s solo is kept in true Bebop style. These men are consummate musicians. Together they have created the perfect ensemble with their music that will have a lasting affect on those who listen. On the next track, “Committed” Olson pays tribute to Jerry Bergonzi. The song is emotionally stirring. Olson’s playing, accompanied by the nuances of a piano and drums in the background, elevates the listener to an insightful listening experience. The next track is perfectly titled. “Playing With Fire” has a definite Latin flare provided by Kilian and Moio. “Zingaro” is an utterly smooth performance complete with a slow tempo, soft key strokes, velvety tenor, and a hint of a caress on the drums. The mood shifts with “Snake Eyes” which is another acknowledgment of Bergonzi. The solos performed by Olson and Sielert are remarkable. Moio is perceptively brilliant and adds to the complete brilliance of this track. The album ensues with “Chelsea Bridge” and “This Is For Albert,” which are both very suave yet passionate performances. On “This Is For Albert,” Dwight Kilian is superb on bass, and the solos taken by Olson, Vern, Sielert, and Moio are dazzling. The album ends with an Olson favorite, “Stella By Starlight.” The motivation of these outstanding musicians is evident from the get-go. Collectively, they work brilliantly. Each player is given the opportunity to shine throughout the album. They have a great deal to say and that is conveyed through their music.

If you are a jazz aficionado who reveres the art of improvisation and unparalleled musicianship, then this is an album that you must add to your collection. This is a listening experience that is not to be missed! - Jazz

"CD Review"

A very talented saxist and composer, Olson has contributed three originals to this eight-track CD, plus some great tunes from such great writers as Jobim, Strayhorn, Shorter and Victor Young. He is Director of Jazz Studies and a professor of saxophone at Furman University in Greenville, SC, and has performed professionally with such names as Benny Carter, Randy Brecker, Lou Rawls and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. Olson's timbre is rich and always lyrical, and like the Conte CD reviewed today he doesn't try to hog the spotlight from his sidemen. He always shares his musical space with his colleagues.

Committed is a lovely ballad of extended length honoring saxist Jerry Bergonzi, one of Olson's inspirations. The Latinized Playing with Fire is fairly far out, but Olson has a way to making the far out sounds sound not so far out, thus retaining the interest of listeners who would just tune out improvisations getting into the "loft jazz" area. The very expressive treatment of Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge is one of the finest I've ever heard of this standard. The quintet sounds considerably larger than the usual jazz quartet. - Audiophile Audition


Matt Olson - Vortex (self-released). Streaming audio clips are available at .


Feeling a bit camera shy


A native of Racine, Wisconsin, Matt Olson is Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master of Music degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Bachelor of Music degree in Saxophone Performance from Northwestern University. Matt’s teachers have included Frederick Hemke, Debra Richtmeyer, Mike Kocour, Don Owens, Paul Bro, and Jonathan Helton.

Matt’s professional work includes performances with Randy Brecker, Kurt Elling, Benny Carter, Kevin Mahogany, Chris Vadala, Doc Severinsen, Manhattan Transfer, Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Wayne Newton, Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, the Four Tops, children’s entertainer Shari Lewis, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. His performances have taken him to the Montreal Jazz Festival as well as to Chicago’s Jazz Showcase and Orchestra Hall. Matt was selected to perform at the 2002, 2004, and 2006 North American Saxophone Alliance national conferences and the 2003 World Saxophone Congress. He has also been a featured guest artist and clinician at Northwestern University, Arizona State University, Samford University, and high schools throughout the United States. His article on Jerry Bergonzi’s approach to intervallic improvisation appeared in the January 2006 issue of Downbeat magazine. Matt's big band compositions are published by Walrus Music. Matt’s debut jazz recording, Vortex was released in March 2006, and has received international radio airplay.

Matt is active nationally as a clinician and adjudicator and previously served as instructor of saxophone for the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and as the summer instructor of jazz saxophone and jazz combos for the National High School Music Institute at Northwestern University. He also conducted one of two 2005 South Carolina Band Directors Association All-State Jazz Ensembles. He holds memberships in a variety of professional music societies including the International Association of Jazz Educators, North American Saxophone Alliance, BMI, Pi Kappa Lambda, MENC, Music Teachers National Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.