Jazz on tap
Old Meeting House of Francestown: Matt Savage Trio in concert
Jazz trio Matt Savage, left, Steve Silverstein and John Funkhouser perform at Boston Commons. The three will be reuniting for a concert at the Francestown Meeting House on Saturday night. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
When you’re an eight-year-old jazz piano prodigy, it can be hard to find a place to fit in. For Matt Savage of Francestown, that place was with adults who shared his passion. He made his first connection with his longtime fellow trio members John Funkhouser and Steve Silverstien while playing at jazz jams as a child. Today the three don’t play together regularly anymore, but when they do get together those shared years make for something special.
Savage, now 21, has struck out on his own in his jazz career, releasing a solo album in 2010, with another slated for release in September. But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten where he started, playing and performing with his original trio along side Funkhouser and Silverstein. The three played together as a trio until about 2006, when they started focusing on other projects. That wasn’t the end of the Matt Savage Trio, though. Every so often the three reunite for a show — like this upcoming Saturday. And residents won’t have to travel to Boston or New York, or to a big name jazz festival, to hear them play. The three will perform together for the first time in more than six months on Savage’s home turf at the Old Meeting House of Francestown.
Funkhouser and Silverstein were already accomplished musicians when they first hooked up with Savage. Both teach music — Silverstein at the River School in Weston, Mass., and Funkhouser at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“I met them at these informal jams when I was 8 years old, and they were amazing musicians. When I wanted to start a jazz trio, I called them up, and we did our first gigs when I was 9. We played our first gigs around the Boston area, and that’s the group I really made a name for myself with,” said Savage in an interview Sunday.
Playing with the same group for so long creates a special synergy, Savage said, and allows for a healthy dose of improvisation.
Saturday’s concert is going to be a mix of the group’s repertoire, some old and some brand new, Savage said. And while the group usually focuses on playing Savage’s original jazz compositions, they’ll also be dipping into some of the classic jazz standards that any fan of the genre would recognize.
“It’s really great to be back playing with them again,” said Savage. “I’ve known them for so long, we know the tunes and we know each other so well, it just makes for a friendly and wonderful playing experience. It’s a totally different sound when it’s the three of us playing because we know each other and our music so well, we can throw in fun different musical ideas and really interact. When we play jazz standards, these really familiar tunes that we all know but haven’t played together, it always sounds amazing. It’s as if we had played it before. That’s what happens when you’ve played with musicians for a long time.”
On Saturday the trio will feature some old jazz favorites, including “Autumn Leaves,” composed by Joseph Kosma, with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
But the focus will be on Savage’s original compositions, including some of the tunes from Savage’s soon-to-be-released album, “A Bigger Celebration.” “A Fast Car in Summer,” is a song Savage composed about the feeling of traveling around in the family car along the highway, and feeling refreshed and relaxed.
“Even though it’s a regular car, if you have the right mentality, it can feel like a special sports car,” Savage said.
They will have plenty of options to choose from, said Savage, as his compositions have evolved over the years, though remain in the realm of jazz.
As a child, Savage had the impression that songs had to be played as fast as possible, and the three played a lot of fast bebop tunes.
But over the years, as Savage matured, he began to compose music with a lot more diversity, adding classical and pop influences, and with his most recent album, a rock feel.
Savage has also become more technically proficient over the years. He finished his undergraduate degree music studies at Berklee in November, and plans to continue his education. He will be pursuing a master’s degree in jazz piano at the Manhattan School of Music in New York in the fall.
The trio will play at the Old Meeting House on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and are available at the door. For more information, visit www.savagerecords.com.
Proceeds will benefit the Old Meeting House.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.