Matt Herskowitz

A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Albany native Matt Herskowitz has made Montréal (Québec) his adopted home since 2000. He distinguished himself as a talent deserving of wider recognition with his first solo piano release, 2007’s Matt Herskowitz Plays Gershwin, long out of print – it will be available digitally world-wide on the Justin Time label in April 2018.  It features solo arrangements of “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Concerto in F” and “Cuban Overture.” Matt’s performance on the soundtrack of the Grammy-nominated film The Triplets of Belleville has earned him much popular and critical acclaim. He performs Bach’s Prelude in C minor in the film, loosely posing as Glenn Gould, and his own Bach à la Jazz, a jazz arrangement of the same Bach prelude, which is also featured on the award-winning hit soundtrack CD of the film.   In 2008, he premiered his piano concert Undertow with the Absolute Ensemble at the Bremen International Musikfest in Bremen and in 2010 recorded the ambitious Jerusalem Trilogy, which seamlessly fused contemporary jazz and classical styles with a unique blend of Arab and Jewish scales and 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.”

As a follow-up to 2010’s acclaimed Jerusalem Trilogy, the pianist-composer showcases the art of solo piano on Upstairs, recorded before a live audience in the intimate setting of Montréal’s Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill. Drawing on his classical training and his deep love of jazz, Herskowitz presents an artful blend of musical styles with direct nods to Michel Petrucciani, Dave Brubeck, George Gershwin, J.S. Bach and Robert Schumann along the way. Downbeat magazine praised Upstairs in its 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.”   “I wanted the choice of pieces to reflect a broad range of what I do, including my own compositions, arrangements of classical pieces, and my favourite jazz covers,” writes Herskowitz in the liner notes.   

As one half of the Piano Caméléons (album released 2016) Matt collaborates with fellow pianist John Roney.  Offering a unique performance concept, they play on two grand pianos, improvising in a jazz style over well-known works from the classical repertoire. This musical genre is widely known as “Third Stream.”  Their live performances are a rare opportunity to see virtuoso musicians do what they do best in a relaxed, intimate setting. 

His most recent album was originally released in 2005 and has been remastered and reimagined as a tribute to trumpet great Lew Soloff; Forget Me Not – Homage to Lew Soloff has it all. Forms usually associated with contemporary classical cohabit with the funky, bluesy, Latin and Brazilian. Wild improv contrasts with moments of silence that range from the wildly dazzling to tragically simple.  A tribute to the harmony of disparate traditions in the hands of inspired master musicians.