Take Five With Matthew Sheens
Born in Bowral, Australia. Lived in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide before leaving for the US at 22 to complete my Masters at the New England Conservatory in Boston.
Was the first Australian to win a Downbeat Magazine award (Best Soloist in 2009/2011), and has performed across Australia, USA, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, at the Jazz Hoeilaart International Jazz Festival in Belgium, Montreux International Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Europafest in Romania, and at the International Panama Jazz festival in Panama City. In 2011 Matthew moved to New York City where he is currently engaged in a number of projects as a pianist and composer.
Released first CD as a leader in 2012, Every Eight Seconds.
Teachers and/or influences?
I studied with Fred Hersch, Jason Moran and Jerry Bergonzi during my time at NEC. I've also studied briefly with Frank Kimbrough, Aaron Goldberg, Hector Martignon and Phil Markowitz.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I was given a glockenspiel for my third Christmas. Then demanded a piano.
Your sound and approach to music:
Studying with Fred Hersch and Jason Moran really reformed the way I approach playing the piano. in a nutshell, I approach playing in a more "holistic" way, concerning myself with the overall effect of what I'm playing rather than becoming obsessed with each note.
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I feel I spend half my life commuting on the NYC subway so I think a lot about this, and my description/ opinion changes every week. Despite the fact that nothing really sells and it can be a real uphill battle to make a living as a creative musician, there is really so much diversity within the genre today, and so much of it is very exciting, has unpredictable influences, and is inspired in a unique way. One thing stays the same in my mind: I just really don't like the word "Jazz," but then again the "Impressionists" and "Minimalists" hated the terms they were given, too.