Matt King is a pianist, organist, vocalist, composer, arranger and producer based in the NYC area. His latest recording as a leader, "Monk In Brazil", features the iconic compositions of jazz legend Thelonious Monk, arranged by King in various Brazilian genres. This trailblazing music is earning rave reviews from notable artists in both the American and Brazilian jazz worlds:
"A brilliant triumph, melding the wittiness of Monk’s melodies and the infectiousness of Brazilian rhythms. Matt King’s piano playing is always stellar; his solos sparkle with such clarity and solid creative ideas. If you love Monk and Brazilian music, get ready to party! BRAVO!" (Rufus Reid)
"With both feet firmly planted in the jazz tradition, Matt King lets the wings of this music flutter over many different Brazilian grooves. The playing and the players are all top-notch, and the creative arrangements enhance Monk’s music without harming its powerful DNA. Congratulations to Matt for honoring one of the greatest pianist-composers with beautiful grooves and inspired improvisations. Parabéns!” (Jovino Santos Neto)
Watch the "Monk In Brazil" promo video HERE
King got off to an early start musically, beginning piano lessons he was 5, and playing professionally by age 14. He enrolled as a classical piano major at the University of Illinois (in his home state), but with improvisation being his earliest form of musical expression, and his true calling, he was inexorably drawn to the world epicenter of jazz: New York City. Moving east, he completed his collegiate career in the internationally-renowned jazz studies program at William Paterson University in NJ (alongside such esteemed classmates as
Bill Stewart, Doug Weiss, Peter Bernstein, and
Eric Alexander). Matt has been free-lancing in the greater metropolitan area, and around the world, ever since. His extraordinary musical versatility has led him through jazz, latin, fusion, funk, gospel,
rock, blues, and pop genres.
He has performed and/or recorded with a
Who's Who of jazz notables, including Chris Potter, Rufus Reid, Benny Golson, Billy Hart, Dave Stryker, Vic Juris, Joe Morello, and Charles McPherson,
and Brazilian artists such as Nilson Matta,
Claudio Roditi, Leny Andrade, and Claudia Villela. Vocalists as diverse as Phoebe Snow, Curtis Stigers, and Carmen Souza have tapped Matt's talents, as have blues great Earl King, and banjo master Tony Trischka. King has also toured extensively with the legendary jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears, and with late great jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb,
for whom he also served as musical director.
A Composition Fellowship recipient from the NJ State Council on the Arts, he has garnered numerous awards for his playing, composing, and arranging. Matt was a Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition semi-finalist, and won the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 2000.
He has performed with four symphony orchestras in the US, appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America, and played Holland’s renowned North Sea Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and
Tokyo's Cotton Club.
King has also appeared at Lincoln Center,
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the Beacon Theater, NYC-area clubs including
The Blue Note, Birdland, Smoke, The Kitano, 55 Bar, Shanghai Jazz, and Trumpets, and countless venues throughout the US and over 20 countries abroad.
In addition to "Monk In Brazil", Matt has released two other albums as a leader: "Kaleidoscope", an collection of his eclectic original compositions, plus two standards (featuring Chris Potter, Rufus Reid, Doug Weiss, and Anton Denner); and the perennially popular "Welcome, Christmas",
best described by its subtitle, "Unique jazz journeys through seasonal song".
please click the "Music" tab to hear sample tracks from all of Matt's albums, and for links to purchase.
excerpts from "Monk In Brazil" CD press release:
Pianist Matt King Takes Thelonious Monk on a Wild Ride Through Brazil in Groundbreaking New Album
In Monk In Brazil, King reimagines Monk tunes with Brazilian rhythms, alongside an A-list of Brazilian-American musicians including Nilson Matta, Chico Pinheiro, Itaiguara Brandão, Mauricio Zottarelli, Adriano Santos and Anton Denner.
The concept: take the iconic, perennially modern works of Thelonious Monk and combine them with the pulsating, irresistible rhythms of Brazil. It was a brilliant idea just waiting for the right musician to come along and realize it with the necessary combination of inspiration and jazz chops.
Jazz pianist and composer Matt King, winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 2000 and a Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition semi-finalist, was that musician. After all, the project combined two of King’s long-standing passions: Monk and Brazilian music. The result, Monk In Brazil (Mighty Quinn Productions) - subtitled “Re-grooving the music of Thelonious Monk” - refracts the genius of Monk’s music through the rhythms of one of the world’s most musically rich nations, creating a sound that’s bracingly fresh and powerfully seductive.