Chandra Records to Release: After The Storm
From Drummer/Composer Matt Slocum
Featuring Gerald Clayton & Massimo Biolcati
Available October 11, 2011
“An inveterate swinger with a brisk, highly interactive touch and a penchant for melodicism, drummer Matt Slocum is also a thoughtful composer who sets up his team like a savvy point guard running an offense.” -JazzTimes
“Some of the most exciting piano, bass and drum work you’ll hear since E.S.T.” -Jazz Journal UK
“The man has found his drumming voice, and at an early age!” -Peter Erskine
“Slocum is not just a tasteful polyrhythmic drummer, whose subtle use of brushes and mallets brings shading and colour to his playing and who swings whatever the tempo, but also a composer of considerable promise…Thoroughly recommended.” -Jazzwise
”One of his generation’s most highly regarded drummers … Matt Slocum is more than a rising star drummer–he is a composer of startling melodic sophistication.” -JazzPolice
“The trio’s communication is palpable—each player’s effervescence supporting and lifting each other and the music to higher grounds… Present day jazz is clearly not stagnate in the very good hands (and sticks) of Matt Slocum.” -All About Jazz
On After the Storm, award winning New York drummer and composer Matt Slocum fulfills upon the promise displayed on his critically acclaimed debut recording Portraits. Gerald Clayton (piano) and Massimo Biolcati (bass), longtime friends and musical collaborators, complete the trio in a set that showcases six new original compositions as well as “It’s Easy to Remember”, “Everything I Love”, and Slocum’s arrangement of Ravel’s “La Vallée des Cloches”. The recording, which took place immediately following a week long engagement at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, highlights the emotional depth and imaginative sophistication of Slocum’s compositions as well as the trio’s tremendous musical growth and unique brand of intuitive exploration, interaction and empathy.
At 29, Matt Slocum is quickly emerging as one of the leading double threat jazz artists of his generation. His original works on After the Storm reveal a growing level of compositional depth, which has recently been recognized with composition grants from the American Music Center, the Puffin Foundation, and the Meet the Composer Foundation. His trio has earned a reputation as one of the premier modern, yet swinging emerging ensembles in jazz today. This year the group will be featured throughout North America and Europe at upper echelon venues such as Yoshi’s, the Blue Note, the Saratoga Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Earshot Jazz Festival, the Jazz Bakery and many others. Slocum has been featured on more than 20 recordings and has performed and/or recorded with artists such as Shelly Berg, Seamus Blake, Alan Broadbent, Steve Cardenas, Bill Cunliffe, Danny Grissett, Taylor Eigsti, Larry Koonse, Lage Lund, Wynton Marsalis, Linda Oh, Alan Pasqua, Jerome Sabbagh, Jaleel Shaw, Walter Smith III, Dayna Stephens, Ben Wendel, Gerald Wiggins, Anthony Wilson and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Frequently referred to as a “musical” drummer, Slocum possesses a uniquely personal voice on the instrument and is a propulsive, melodic and dynamic accompanist and soloist. Few drummers can match his dynamic and textural shading on the instrument, or his ability to shape the inner space of a composition in such a personal, creatively supportive, yet interactive way. While Slocum clearly has a deep understanding of the jazz tradition, his intuitive and interactive musical language on the drums is largely non-derivative and consistently avoids the predictable. And like his counterparts on After the Storm, Slocum’s identifiable touch and sound greatly enhances the musical proceedings.
Matt Slocum was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and raised east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in western Wisconsin. His first instrument was piano, and he began playing the drums at 11. While in high school he was introduced to jazz through recordings featuring Max Roach and Philly Joe Jones. After graduating Slocum received a full scholarship to attend the University of Southern California. It was nearly 10 years ago at USC where he met fellow classmates and collaborators Gerald Clayton and Massimo Biolcati. Biolcati was studying at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC while Slocum and Clayton were both part of the jazz studies program at the university. Slocum stayed in California for three years after graduating from USC and had the opportunity to work with and learn from many of the West Coast’s finest jazz artists. Although the trio members (particularly Clayton and Slocum) played together frequently in various configurations, it wasn’t until after Slocum made the move the New York in fall 2007 that the trio began working together as a unit. In January 2010, the group released its debut recording. All About Jazz-New York raved, “With this excellent premiere, Slocum steps out of the box as the full package,” while All Music Guide wrote, “This auspicious debut should put Matt Slocum’s name firmly on the jazz map.”
After the Storm represents a quantum leap for the young trio. The recording opens with “Jacaranda”, a lyrical Slocum original that reveals the trio’s sophisticated originality, sensitivity and borderline telepathic communication. It calls to attention a somewhat unique aspect of Slocum’s writing approach- his ability to tailor each composition to the unique voices and strengths of the artists for whom he is composing. “The Catalyst” draws on the darker colors of his increasingly personal harmonic language and illustrates that while Slocum excels with brushes and mallets, he can also propel the trio into high gear when the music calls for it. As Peter Erskine noted in the liner notes to Portraits, “…as musical as this album is, it is not drum solo shy by any means. Matt steps out as well he should, both as a player as well as a composer.”
“It’s Easy to Remember” highlights the trio’s taste and compelling emotional directness in delivering a ballad. Slocum notes that, “We try to get inside not just the melody, harmony and rhythmic shape of a piece, but also the emotional feeling and message. Gerald’s introduction and interpretation really relate to the lyric and the bittersweet nature of this composition.”
The minor key and shifting meters of “Passaic” allude to the dark beauty and serpentine characteristics of the Passaic River, while the title track features one of Clayton’s strongest solos on the date, expertly supported by Biolcati and Slocum’s fluid rhythmic and dynamic interplay. “La Vallée des Cloches” showcases Slocum’s considerable skill and taste as an arranger. He retains the essence of Ravel’s composition while incorporating improvisation and arranging the movement to fit perfectly with the trio’s unique musical aesthetic. Other highlights on After the Storm include the haunting “When Love is New”, the driving modern swing of “Pete’s Place”, and a playfully original interpretation of “Everything I Love”.
“It was an ideal situation in which to record. Performing together each night in the week leading up the recording helped bring us into the possibilities of the music. We were able to go in the studio and just play freely- listening and taking chances rather than needing to think about the technical aspects of the new music. Most of the tracks are first takes; I like the energy, the spontaneity of a first take, and I don’t want it to be too perfect. Intentions are most important and, for me, the core of the music is playing off each other.” Matt Slocum