MATT JENSON
Pianist
Hammond Organist
Composer
Singer

When most were fighting their parents' demand that their child practice their instrument, Matt was asking for lessons in trumpet, trombone, saxophone and piano. The piano finally won out and led to his receiving a masters at the New England Conservatory of Music. While there he studied with jazz greats Dave Holland, Ran Blake and especially with pianist Geri Allen.

After the rigorous but rather uptight experience at the Conservatory Matt sought out what could be called "real" schooling only received in clubs and smokey bars while on the bandstand. Becoming heavily involved in the blues scene in Boston, he landed the keyboard position (piano and Hammond organ) in the internationally known blues and jazz guitarists band, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. The path of the blues also led him to brief stints with legendary R&B; singer Johnny Adams, performing with him at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and in various European locations. He also worked with singer Mighty Sam McClain. While living in Cambridge and performing as a sideman with many groups, he also maintained a busy performance schedule as leader of his own jazz groups, most notably Be3, his Hammond organ trio and with the Matt Jenson (piano) Trio.

While in Cambridge, Matt also discovered a deep and organic love for the music of Bob Marley and vintage Jamaican reggae. This led him to form and write music for his own reggae band that was well rehearsed but never played out. Despite this, the seed was planted that would later become the basis for some of Matt's most meaningful work.

The summer of 1995, Matt relocated to Portsmouth, NH and embarked on a very intense period of deep soul-searching which eventually landed him on the Caribbean island of Saint Croix, where he worked on a painting crew, searching for some answers. When he returned to Portsmouth he began a courtship with Afro-Cuban music, first learning the rhythmic basics on a set of used timbales with a local conga player, Scott Mahler. The two formed the popular group CoraSon which began to pack the house at a local club (The Press Room!!) during their regular Wednesday night gig.

Later Matt switched back to piano when he was asked to join the Worcester (MA) based 17 piece Salsa/Plena Orquesta, Los Pleneros del Coco. Performing around New England with this group enabled him to delve deeply into this difficult music and learn the folkloric traditions. After leaving "The Coco" Matt assembled top notched Latino musicians from Boston to form the popular Latin dance quintet, the Mambo Combo, playing to packed houses in the Seacoast, NH area. This group received two awards form the local newspapers' readers' poll in 1998 and 1999.

Matt continues his involvement with Afro-Cuban music and recently, in August of 2001, he was selected to take part in the week-long Salsa Meets Jazz seminar at Goddard College (VT) with Eddie Palmieri and his Octet!

Now Matt is taking a lead role. For this he returned to his ever-present love affair with reggae! After assembling favored musicians with whom he had both performed and developed close personal relationships, he set to recording his music. Matt's compositions are committed to the "roots" reggae sound of Bob Marley and Studio One Jamaica but is decidedly moving out of that stereotype. His group combines the best that he and his brilliant stable of players have to offer the One Drop rhythm as jazz, blues, Latin, rock, reggae and folk musicians. The recording, entitled "One Drops, Spirituals & Riddim", represents the beginning of "Acid Reggae." It also introduces him as a singer. As a performer, Matt spares none, creating intense conversations with his band members that are as aggressive as a thunder storm and as sublime as a quiet sunset.

This recording project could not have been finished to such a degree of quality with out the money he received from the Artist Fellowship that was awarded to him in 1999 form the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

Now living in Boston again, he and his newly formed group,
MATT JENSON'S ACID REGGAE XPERIENCE,
are spreading the news of this new musical intention.

Matt also continues to freelance in the Boston area appearing (on Hammond organ) with guitarist Mike Williams and others. (see performance schedule).

Lastly, Matt had the distinct privilege to complete a fantastic roots blues and Southern rock CD with his long time friend and guitarist, Cyril Lance. Matt plays Hammond and piano throughout this top notched recording which features the vocal work of Grammy nominee (and former Allman Bro's pianist), Johnny Neel.

ADDITIONAL:
The Fall of 2001 Matt joined the faculty at Berklee College of Music in the piano department, teaching studio piano. He has designed and is now teaching a class he's entitled: "The Music and Life of Bob Marley" This is a Performance Studies class that includes some lecturing, basically following the facts of Bob's life with rare video and audio clips, and then students prepare for a performance of Marley's music at the end of the semester.