ANDREW RATHBUN, sAXOPHONE & MATTHEW FRIES, PIANO

Impressions of debussy and beyond

Sunday, March 7 @ 4:15 PM EDT

The music of Claude Debussy impacted music on a much wider scale than just concert music. Many jazz musicians have cited him as an influence, and his writing played a role in influencing the harmonic content of jazz composition.

This concert by saxophonist Andrew Rathbun and pianist Matthew Fries will draw on selections from Andrew’s 2020 release “Impressions of Debussy” while including pieces that have Debussy’s unique sonic imprint embedded in their DNA.

Saxophonist, composer, and Toronto native Andrew Rathbun has achieved a rare depth of lyricism and compositional intelligence in 20 years as a recording artist; Ben Ratliff of the New York Times described Rathbun as “an industrious saxophonist and imaginative composer-arranger.” Voted as a “Rising Star” in the 2018 Downbeat Critics Poll, he has documented his stirring original music with a series of 15 acclaimed recordings, on the Challenge, Fresh Sound and Steeplechase labels, and has collaborated with musicians like Kenny Wheeler, Billy Hart, Ben Monder and Luciana Souza . “Rathbun’s lines dance and glide,” writes David Whiteis of JazzTimes, “reflecting both childlike wonder and well-honed artistry.”

After hearing 2014’s Numbers & Letters the New Yorker declared Rathbun “a crafty saxophonist and composer whose ambitious work over the past decade has eluded the wider recognition it deserves.” Atwood Suites, Rathbun’s JUNO-nominated jazz-orchestra project was summarized in Jazziz Magazine; “On the basis of this CD alone, Rathbun deserves to be ranked among today’s top arranger- composers.”
His latest recordings include Impressions of Debussy, about which revered Chicago critic Howard Reich declares “the listener travels from a high-toned performance of a familiar work to a new conception that opens up its motifs, rhythms and harmonies.” Northern Noir is Rathbun’s duo recording with the legendary pianist Ran Blake. In James Hale’s review, he describes the recording as “a deeply charming and compelling meeting” and that “he has released some truly moving and memorable recordings.”

Andrew has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Banff Center. He received his masters from New England Conservatory, and his D.M.A from Manhattan School of Music.

Pianist/composer, Matthew Fries, is professor of jazz piano at Western Michigan University.

He is highly regarded in the jazz world as both a soloist and accompanist. The winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, his debut album, Song for Today (TCB Music) was named a 2001 critics pick by Jazziz Magazine, and his continuing work with his collaborative trio, TRI-FI, “takes on the Jazz Trio challenge and delivers a ‘knock out’ punch” (Jazz Review). As a sideman his work has been described as “the best jazz accompaniment I’ve seen in a cabaret in years” (The New York Times), and “the crispest rhythm section imaginable” (The London Times).

Born in the small town of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Matthew grew up in a musical home. His mother was a classical singer. His father was a professor of piano at Susquehanna University and was Matthew’s first teacher, teaching him piano and music theory. He caught “the jazz bug” after a college jazz history course awakened his interest in jazz piano. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Ithaca College and went on to earn a Master’s Degree from The University of Tennessee, where he taught undergraduate classes and studied with jazz piano great, Donald Brown.

Matthew lived in New York City for almost 25 years performing with many of the greatest jazz musicians. He maintains a busy teaching and touring schedule – touring frequently with his collaborative trio, TRI-FI, and with singer, Curtis Stigers, as a regular member of his band. He continues to perform with a diverse lineup of artists that has included Curtis Stigers, Stacey Kent, Ann Hampton Callaway, DeeDee Bridgewater, Vincent Herring, Steve Wilson, Joel Frahm, Steve LaSpina, Dave Samuels, Claudio Roditi, Terell Stafford, and many others.