Matt Siffert
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Matt Siffert

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter

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At his core, bassist/vocalist/composer Matt Siffert is a singer-songwriter type. However, what made his band’s first public outing out DROM most interesting was his eclectic instrumentation. There were no guitars (either acoustic or electric) to be found, instead favoring the set up of drums, bass, cello, piano and French horn. Not content to let the instrumentation lazily speak for itself, Siffert’s quintet extracted handfuls of musical possibilities, ranging from the sophisticated rock chord progressions of Elton John and David Bowie, to the downright pastoral musings of 19th/20th century composers like Maurice Ravel and Aaron Copland. Siffert’s music also managed to free itself from the typical stuffiness of overly composed folk fusion, letting shades of jazz and drum-n-bass color the music and allow it to breathe.

The sharpest quality about Siffert’s music was its authenticity. It takes a rare brand of bravado to insert three honest-to-God solo cello pieces in the early parts of a set in a Lower East Side music club, not to mention music that reflected his own musical sensibilities while also dripping with Bach. Siffert's sidemen are also strong, willing instrumentalists who understand technique and nuance: Lia Khol’s cello provided warm, vocal-like textures, while Erin Whelan’s French horn kicked off a dark rock soundscape with hints of Wagner.

The quintet’s funkier, more soulful side was ever-present. Siffert is a superbly confident bassist, switching up between crooning solo fills and more pocket-bass lines. True to his “strength in authenticity” approach, Siffert, pianist Joe Etzine and drummer Allan Mednard were not playing in a simple “jazzy” style, but playing actual jazz: Mednard’s clacks and Etzine’s dense chords weren't a far cry from what you might hear at the Blue Note or the Vanguard a few avenues away. In songwriting, Siffert favored small vignettes but also allowed for gradual exposition: his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” (where Siffert’s low, just slightly disinterested voice was at its most appropriate) incorporated the band slowly and assuredly.

Siffert’s band has room to grow and find itself, as there were some brief pacing and vocal issues throughout. Still, it takes a willful determination to be truly original in your sound, and it's refreshing to know that a band has the gusto to go after modes not yet travelled. Siffert knows what he wants, and audiences can look forward to him delivering more and more of it. - Feast of Music


Discography

Morningside, 2012

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Bio

Matt Siffert is a New York City-based songwriter, composer, and bassist. He is committed to these duties as individual crafts, as well as exploring the connections between all three.

As a songwriter, he has been a finalist in the BMI John Lennon Scholarship, a fellow at the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Workshop at Northwestern University, and a student at the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is a member of the New York Songwriters Circle and the Singer-Songwriter Sessions at The Bitter End.

As a composer, he has premiered music locally and internationally, from the Kaufman Center in New York City to Villa La Pietra in Florence. He has worked with groups such as Wet Ink, Trio Kavak, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

As a bassist, he has performed in various capacities, from CBGB’s in New York City to the Siena Jazz Festival in Italy. He has performed and studied with musicians such as Jean-Michel Pilc and Kermit Driscoll.

In June 2012 he released ‘Morningside,’ his first EP as a solo artist. The release brings together his interests in songwriting and instrumental music, and was premiered in full at the Cornelia Street Café.

Matt Siffert grew up in New York City. He currently studies composition at The Juilliard School with Jonathan Dawe. He received his Bachelor’s degree in music and psychology from Carnegie Mellon University, where he graduated cum laude and as a Carnegie Scholar.