After several years of hearing his dad playing the guitar around the house and of being enthralled with Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the virtuosic piano stylings of the late Johnny Costa on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Matt Nelson asked his parents for piano lessons at the age of 5. It was only a year later when he met lifelong friend and musical companion, future drummer and audio engineer, Matt Nischan. As kids, the two Matts spent hours jamming, attempting to pick out melodies and beats from current rock and pop songs and various Nintendo games by ear.
At age 13, Nelson hit an impasse with his piano studies and began studying jazz with pianist Tara Singer. It was with Singer that Nelson was introduced to the basics of the jazz language, as well as being introduced to Chick Corea’s Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, an extremely influential record for Nelson. Nelson continued studying with Singer through the end of his high school years. While in high school, Nelson also spent time studying drums and percussion, including vibraphone and marimba.
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“...compositions that cover a lot of ground stylistically, and improvisations that tower above those of most other twentysomething pianists. His writing makes unusually good use of rhythm and tempo to define his melodies; his soloing reveals a tremendous control of dynamics and articulation. His improvised lines expand and deepen through the use of internal rhymes and implied harmonies, and he uses his command of accents and ornamentation to turn a mere rendition into an actual arrangement... a glorious debut from a pianist worth watching.”
--Neil Tesser, Examiner.com
a tasty player with a penchant for uncommon lyricism
--Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times