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New album from Matt Gordy

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    Posted: 26 Jan 2022 at 7:59pm
Coming January 28, 2022

MATT GORDY has travelled down a long and winding road to become one of the first-call jazz drummers in Los Angeles, and now, after a successful, 40-year career, he is releasing his second CD as a leader, BE WITH METhe album is a showcase for Gordy’s considerable talents as a drummer, arranger, and composer.
Gordy performs regularly with some of the finest musicians in Southern California. He books performances with a band he calls Jazz Tonite Sextet, which includes a rotating roster of A-list artists such as Chuck Berghofer, Bill Cunliffe, and Bob Sheppard, to name just a few. On BE WITH ME, Gordy is joined by ALAN PASQUA (piano), CHRIS COLANGELO (upright and electric bass), IDO MESHULAM (trombone and valve trombone), JEFF ELLWOOD (sax), RON STOUT (trumpet and flugelhorn), and vocalist SHERRY WILLIAMS. The album comprises six standards and four compositions by Gordy.
Gordy is a versatile drummer who has performed extensively across genres, including classical and pop. He was raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY, where he began studying classical piano at the age of seven. After hearing Joe Morello’s drum solo on Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” when he was 12 years old, he switched to playing drums. The family moved to Newton, MA, in 1965, and Gordy was lucky to audition for and get accepted to the New England Conservatory, which boasted a lineup of celebrity teacher/musicians like Jaki Byard, who was head of the jazz studies department, Gunther Schuller, president of the school, and Vic Firth. Gordy played in a variety of school bands, including the school’s symphony orchestra, the choir, the big band, and others, which gave him the opportunity to play at the Tanglewood Music Festival with Aaron Copeland, Pierre Boulez, and Leonard Bernstein. He also began playing jazz gigs with small groups around the area. Gordy says, “I was incredibly lucky to get the best music education anyone could possibly have.”
Right after college, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came Gordy’s way. A former student of Firth had been playing with the world-renowned Maracaibo Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela, and told Firth there was an opening for a percussionist. Gordy got the job although he didn’t speak Spanish at the time, but he thrived there since the 100-piece orchestra was made up of mostly foreign nationals, including 30 Americans. He loved the people and culture of Venezuela. He met the woman whom he wound up marrying and spent nine years living well in Maracaibo. But in the 1980s, bad decisions made by the government after oil prices collapsed led to hyper-inflation and big increases in poverty and crime. After he was robbed a couple of times, once by gun point, he decided to move back to the States.
Gordy moved back to the Boston area in 1985 and started to get the attention of music contractors. One day he got a call from the contractor for the Boston Ballet, who offered him an engagement of Romeo & Juliet by Prokofiev. Subsequently, a wealth of opportunities opened up. Not only did he spend 14 years subbing for The Boston Pops and other classical groups, but he developed a solid reputation as a musician who could play just about any style, and he soon found himself on stage backing major pop acts like Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra Jr., and many others.
In 2006, his wife wanted to move to Los Angeles to be near her daughter. It was a difficult decision for Gordy because he was working steadily, but being adventurous, he agreed. One day, sax great Bob Sheppard asked him to come by and jam with him, and Gordy quickly became a mainstay on the Southern California jazz scene.
Now, after so many years backing up some of the biggest names in the music business, Gordy felt it was time to put out a recording under his own name. Gordy, who arranged all the tunes on the album, opens BE WITH ME with “Topsy,” written by Eddie Durham and made famous by Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Gordy’s arrangement was inspired by Oscar Peterson’s version of the tune that appeared on his Oscar Peterson Plays Count Basie recording. Gordy dedicates “You and the Night and the Music” to the late pianist Mulgrew Miller. The tune opens with a solo bass playing the verse followed by a brief solo on the drums and then followed by the horns playing in unison before each soloist gets their turn to improvise.
“Camouflage,” one of Gordy’s originals, has a swing/funk groove. “Spring Ahead,” which Gordy dedicates to Chick Corea, is a contrafact based on the late pianist’s classic composition “Spain.” Gordy wrote “Chloe” for his granddaughter’s 10th birthday. Gordy worked with Joni Mitchell in Boston on her Both Sides Now tour in 2001, and he composed the title track, “Be With Me,” based on the chord changes to “A Case of You” from Mitchell’s Blue album. The song features vocalist Sherry Williams singing lyrics written by Gordy’s good friend Gregg Arthur.
Gordy dedicates Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes” to McCoy Tyner. It was inspired by Tyner’s version on John Coltrane’s 1962 release, Coltrane. Gordy studied piano with Boston educator Charlie Banacos. Gordy used techniques that Banacos taught him on “My Shining Hour.” Oscar Peterson’s “Wheatland” is from his Canadiana Suite. Gordy re-imagines Peterson’s solo as short fragments that became a shout chorus for the horns. Gordy closes the album with the pop classic “Sunny,” written in 1963. The song again features vocalist Williams, whose performance on the tune Gordy says, “sounds like Sade meets Aretha.”
Matt Gordy is one of the finest drummers in the country. He has honed his skills by playing across genres in some of the highest profile, most technically and artistically demanding venues and settings in the U.S. and around the world. Joined by his stellar musical compatriots, BE WITH ME is an exciting presentation of jazz playing and arranging at its best.
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BE WITH ME is set for release on January 28, 2022 and will be available everywhere.
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