Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Web site: http://mattbaker.com.au
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Jazz Pianist Matt Baker has travelled far with his career, performing for audiences all round the globe. In fact in July 2003 and 2004, he performed in Switzerland at the Montreux Jazz Festival with his trio.
In 2003, the trio was selected as the house band, to perform seventeen nights straight in the Montreux Jazz Club. This year they performed each night of the festival in Harry’s New York Bar, and gave a concert in the main jazz venue of the festival, ‘The Casino Barriere’. Matt also represented Australia and gained fifth place in the 2003 Montreux International Solo Jazz Piano competition; an internationally acclaimed competition open to jazz pianists from any corner of the globe, and was a runner up as well in 2004 and 2005.
His music has taken him three times over to the Jazz capital of the world, New York, as well as over to New Zealand for a series of solo and trio performances as well at the Queenstown Jazz Festival. Back home he has performed in Jazz Festivals and concerts all around Australia - Perth, York, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Bundaberg, Lightning Ridge, Gladstone, Noosa, Kiama, Thredbo, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, York, Sanctuary Cove, Mackay, Darwin, Newcastle, Wollongong, Hamilton, Coonabarabran, Horsham, Orange, The Blue Mountains, Goulburn, Gundagai, Mudgee, Tamworth, Grafton, Ballina, Twin Towns, The Gold Coast, Camden Haven, The Hunter Valley, Manly and Darling Harbour.
In December 2002, Matt returned home from his third trip to New York. He spent a week with Jazz piano legend Oscar Peterson, watching him play every night at the Blue Note, and spent many hours with him between performances talking music, piano, careers and just becoming good friends.
Matt, a student of New York pianists Benny Green and James Williams, revisited these wonderful players for some more lessons, and in previous trips has also studied casually with Mulgrew Miller, Aaron Goldberg, Eric Reed, Jacky Terrasson, Stephen Scott, Laurence Hobgood, Ralph Sutton, and Ella Fitzgerald's life-long accompanist Paul Smith.
In Montreux 2004, Matt spent some personal time with jazz legend Herbie Hancock and Cuban pianist Michel Camilo, studying their music, concepts and approaches to modern jazz.
Back home Matt has toured Australia extensively with trumpet virtuoso James Morrison. He has played for Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jnr., and has also been the support act for Jazz legends Tony Bennett and Al Jarreau. Since December 2000, Matt is now the resident pianist with Australia's well-known Jazz band, “Galapagos Duck”, and played in John Morrison's Swing City from 1999 to 2003.
June 2003 saw the release of Matt‘s 2nd album, recorded in December 2002. The album features John Morrison (brother of James) on Drums, and Phil Stack (James Morrison sextet, Thirsty Merc) on Bass. The album showcases the trio, but also features some of Sydney’s top horn players, and some fiery solo piano.
In June 2006, Matt released his 3rd album, "From an afternoon with the Mountains". The album features two new young up and coming giants, Alex Boneham and Ko Omura. Sydney percussionist Akyho Akhrif joins the trio for the project too. On the album, the group explores a completely new original sound with Cuban, Brazilian, Classical and Jazz influences .
Matt quoted of the album and project...
... "Many musicians before have taken classical music and jazzed it up. I wanted to go the other way; by taking my music and expressing some of it with a classical sound, yet while still weaving the jazz through..."
... "A lot of inspiration for this album has come from my travels to Switzerland, to the Montreux Jazz Festival. One major part of the album is "The Mountain Suite", a three-piece suite for two of the mountains that surround Montreux (Le Gramont, and Les Dents Du Midi) and the Lake (Lake Geneva)..."
... "This album also marks my first collaboration with a Chamber Orchestra. I have wanted to play with a real classical orchestra for a long time now, and the fantastic musicians in the orchestra made it all a magical experience. Lake (from The Mountain Suite) was actually composed in one take, in the Montreux Conservatory, Switzerland, as a solo piano work. Luckily I had the recorder on. After listening back, I decided this had to be written for orchestra, and so transcribed the piece from the recording and arranged it, changing nothing exactly as it was played (or composed) at the time and there was born The Mountain Suite... "
... "Many things in life inspire different emotions within us; love, sadness, happiness, admiration, sorrow, and more. Music to me now is an expression of emotion; a portrait , in the form of melody, harmony and rhythm. Every song on this album is a musical portrait of different parts of my life; of people, places or events that have inspired me in some way. I want to share these emotions through the music on this album... " MB