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Matthew Stevens

“Of the young guitarists on New York’s jazz scene, few are as highly tipped as Matthew Stevens.” – NPR

“Stevens is a singular talent brimming with a strong identity.” – DownBeat Magazine

“Matthew Stevens is a young guitarist who navigates with ease among jazz, indie-rock and soul. “– The New York Times

“Matthew Stevens has become one of the world’s most exciting up-and-coming jazz guitarists.” – iTunes Music Editor’s Choice

Over the last year or so, guitarist Matt Stevens has really stepped out. For years, the Toronto native was a part of Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah's group. He's compatriots with Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jamire Williams, among numerous others. However, when he stepped out last year for his debut album, Woodwork, it was clear Stevens was building to something. Stevens as an accompanist knows the pocket, can abide and shine in it, but can step out and stretch when the time is right. As a leader, that same economic sense, of balancing the wings in takeoff before knowing how to take flight, abides throughout his music. Matt Stevens is a musician of remarkable restraint and carefully tapped great power. -Anthony Dean Harris

Virtuosic, shape-shifting guitarist and composer Matthew Stevens will release his second album as a bandleader, ‘Preverbal,’ March 24 on Ropeadope and in Canada on Crystal Math Music Group (Metric, Grimes). ‘Preverbal’ is a visceral statement, a kinetic exploration of harmony and rhythm driven by Stevens’ masterful playing and singular melding of elements of experimental, jazz and rock. The album blooms and disintegrates over 8 original songs that are immersive and muscular, dark and joyous. ‘Preverbal’ was recorded with Stevens’ core band of Eric Doob on drums and Vicente Archer bass, plus synthesizer and deft touches of sound manipulation and studio craft. It also features a soaring guest vocal appearance from Esperanza Spalding on album closer “Our Reunion.” 


Album opener “Picture Window” was recently unveiled via a glowing write-up from critic Nate Chinen at NPR/WBGO. He says the music “advances the ideals of modern jazz even when, sonically speaking, it gestures in other directions.” He continues, “Stevens is not the sort of improviser to show you all of his cards, or even reveal his intentions: he prefers an air of alluring intrigue, down to the way the track ends, 

like a set of blinds snapping shut.” Listen to “Picture Window” here: https://soundcloud.com/ropeadope/matthew-stevens-preverbal-01-picture-window


Stevens’ sophomore album as bandleader comes on the heels of a big 2016: He played an integral role in the recording and sound of Esperanza Spalding’s ‘Emily’s D+Evolution’ - one of the best albums of the year - and toured the globe as part of her power trio. He’s also collaborated extensively with Christian Scott, acting as his musical director, performing on all of his recordings and composing music. ‘Preverbal’ is the fully realized vision of this in-demand collaborator and band mate, the culmination of a decade spent lending an important voice to his many projects and as a bandleader. 


‘Preverbal’ finds Stevens deeply exploring the electric guitar while his solo debut, 2015’s lauded ‘Woodwork,’ was mainly an exploration of acoustic textures. At the onset of making this new album, Stevens introduced and rehearsed the songs with his band completely by ear without any notated music. The approach brought him full circle, to his days rehearsing with his garage band as a teenager, and led to a synchronized ensemble with ample headroom to explore and improvise during the recording. 

‘Preverbal’ was produced by Stevens along with bandmate Eric Doob, and recorded at Revolution Recording in Toronto, Ontario. It was engineered and mixed by Kyle Hoffman.


My Artists Sessions

Friday, April 28

5:00pm EDT