Born: July 18, 1981 Primary Instrument: Drums
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, New Music USA 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. The group has been featured throughout North America and Europe at 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 Seamus Blake, Alan Broadbent, Steve Cardenas, Aaron Goldberg, 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, Sam Yahel 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 on the instrument 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 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
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. -Andrea Canter, JazzPolice (February 2010)
Matt Slocum's multicolored traps-at times forceful or delicate, creatively painting varied tempos with the essence of swing�define the drummer's debut, Portraits. Hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota, Slocum's introduction carries forward the torch of patriarchs Max Roach and Elvin Jones amongst others, but he also carves out his own rhythmic patterns with young contemporaries such as Eric Harland and Johnathan Blake... Present day jazz is clearly not stagnate in the very good hands (and sticks) of Matt Slocum-a young drummer who plays with empathy and verve. -Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz (March 2010)
Portraits reaches #14 on the Jazzweek national jazz radio chart.
“Matt ‘gets’ Philly Joe Jones and Roy Haynes as good as any other drummer I know, and has managed to infuse his drumming with his own style-the man has found his drumming voice, and at an early age! Talent and hard work. Matt was always one of my favorite students at USC. Matt’s jazz credentials seem to be in order. Names and university degrees don’t say it all, however. The bottom line qualification for any jazz endeavor is that the music has to swing. This record swings.” -Peter Erskine
“Very impressive . . . A smoking drummer with plenty of taste ... splendid timing, dynamics and ideas. He's a master of the current sense of swing. Highly recommended.” -Brick Wahl, LA Weekly (October 2009/March 2010)
This auspicious debut should put Matt Slocum's name firmly on the jazz map. -Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide (March 2010)
“With this excellent premiere, Slocum steps out of the box as the full package.” -Terrell Kent Holmes, All About Jazz New York (January 2010)
It's a thrill to hear Matt's creativity, artistic diversity and sound statements on this wonderful outing of his. I take personal pride in watching his amazing growth, having observed him since his college years. Matt has big ears, huge talent and always plays the sensitivity that everyone experiences in his personality. -John Clayton
“Slocum’s modern tunes and arrangements have a warm patina and nourish the ears. Portraits is an understated gem and Slocum a genuine discovery.” Four stars -Icon (January 2010)
A promising young drummer. -Los Angeles Times (March 2010)
(Slocum) has already developed his own modern style ... this CD has the quality to make him internationally known. -Hans Bernd-Kittlaus, Kind of Blue Reviews (February 2010)
Slocum takes chances, and understands how to use the drums as an instrument to provide the right coloration, not just the right beat ... Portraits establishes Matt Slocum as a leader who doesn't just pay lip service to the post-bop tradition, he immerses himself in it in a way that reminds us why we fell in love with that kind of music in the first place. -somethingelsereviews.com (February 2010)
“An awesome trio … expresses the drummer’s swinging, slightly non-mainstream leanings with exceptional mates.” -Greg Burk (October 2009)
“Matt Slocum's debut is filled with good melodies, smart arrangements, strong solos, and great promise … a rewarding adventure for the listener.” -Richard Kamins, StepTempest (January 2010)
There are sophisticated harmonies and simple melodies twisted ever so slightly to tug on the memory. Shadows prances atmospherically like a Wayne Shorter tune, and, like many Dave Holland songs, manages the trick of sounding busy and spacious at once. The mood ranges from the simmering sax workout of Homage to the gently skewed ballad For Alin — named for Slocum's longtime girlfriend — to the upward glide of Seven Stars, a saxophone conversation featuring Jaleel Shaw on alto and Dayna Stephens on tenor ... With reviews like the rave at Allaboutjazz.com — Slocum steps out of the box as the full package — Portraits, released on tiny Chandra Records, should enhance his burgeoning reputation among the jazz cognoscenti. -Britt Robson, Minneapolis Star Tribune (February 2010)
Slocum seems to have a fine touch on the skins, playing with pleasing melodicism, slithery sense of swing, and a keen attention to subtleties, which really shines through his mallet work on Billy Strayhorn's Daydream. ... The eight Slocum originals that round out the album display a refined, post-bop intelligence ranging from the lush romanticism of For Alin to the scintillating Shadows. -Rick Mason, Minneapolis City Pages (February 2010)
Matt Slocum has created a very good CD here. The playing is top notch, and Matt's compositions are very engaging. I recommend!!! -Alan Pasqua
Some drummers lead groups that feature their own muscular playing. Matt Slocum, on his debut disc, Portraits, is more of a colorist and thoughtful composer-leader, although he can certainly pull out all the stops when he wants to. -Barry Bassis, NY Town & Village (January 2010)
St. Paul native Matt Slocum is making a name for himself in the jazz world and New York City.' -Dan Emerson, St. Paul Pioneer Press (February 2010)
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students