Pianist and composer Matt Herskowitz has been stunning critics in Canada since his newest Justin Time release, Matt Herskowitz Upstairs, was released this past fall. Newly available in the US, Herskowitz will celebrate Upstairs at a launch event at DROM in New York City’s East Village on March 19. (Herskowitz will also be heard in the next several weeks in Toronto, Montreal and the Belgorod Music Festival in Russia.)
Uniquely skilled at authentic and original jazz – impressing the likes of Dave Brubeck – and possessing the superlative technique of a classical virtuoso, the Juilliard-trained Herskowitz, who makes his home in Montreal, astounds with this solo outing of favourite covers and original works, a follow-up to his acclaimed, world music fusion Jerusalem Trilogy.
“Herskowitz deploys his art with a rare passion, but without ever sacrificing musicality,” enthuses Le Devoir, “Exceptional technique, precise sense of nuance, Herskowitz here brilliantly fuses his mastery of jazz and classical.” World Jazz News calls the album “a beautifully captured recording of an intimate live performance by a distinguished performer in varied genres” while Criticaljazz.com concurs: “a solo piano for the ages … easily 5 stars.”
The eclectic program on Matt Herskowitz Upstairs encompasses a rhapsodic homage to Chopin, “Dziekuye (Thank You),” by the great Dave Brubeck, who was a supporter of and a profound influence on Herskowitz’s playing; Michel Petrucciani‘s uplifting, gospel-tinged “Cantabile”; and Schumann‘s “Traumerei” (Dreaming).
Works by the pianist include the brooding “Waltz in Moscow”, written by Herskowitz in 1994 when he participated in the legendary Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition; the melancholy “Bella’s Lament,” which tells the story of Russian-French painter Marc Chagall and his beloved wife and muse Bella; and the waltz-time “Bach à la Jazz,”a jazz arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in C Minor, which Herskowitz previously recorded for EMI’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack to The Triplets of Belleville.
Herskowitz closes the album with two popular Gershwin numbers—a spacious extrapolation on the ballad “But Not for Me” and a rousing, re-harmonized take on “I’ve Got Rhythm,” the latter serving as a dazzling chops showcase for the pianist.
Click here for a complete tracklisting and to stream selected tracks: Justin Time | Upstairs