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Matt Greenwood: Atlas


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Matt Greenwood: Atlas
There are a lot of jazz guitarists out there, and competence in the art of the guitar is common. Mature excellence is less so. But we expect that when we spin a CD. Matt Greenwood, born in Zimbabwe and now home-based in Canada, displays that rare-for-a-debut mature excellence on his axe— and more importantly in his artistic vision—on his debut recording, Atlas. He lays his vision out with assured eloquence on an impressive guitar/piano/bass/drums affair.

There is boldness here. All compositions come from Greenwood's pen. All are strong and compelling. He is inspired by—on two particular tunes—by folkie John Denver's music, which on paper might not sound auspicious. It brings to mind Creed Tayor's CTI Records outings from the late 1960s and early 70s, which have a bad name in some quarters for allegedly diluting jazz with pop sensibilities. But for those naysayers, the CTI Records discography boasts some extraordinary music from guitarists George Benson and Wes Montgomery, who drew heavily from the pop music songbook of the day.

But back to Atlas. Another CTI comparison can be made with the production values of Greenwood's debut. The guitarist's production aesthetics are polished and spot-on in their enhancement of the music. They could not have been applied more expertly (via Greenwood's post-recording guitar contributions) in their creations of his cinematic worldview.

Opening with the brief, shimmering soundscape, "Constellations," Greenwood moves into the rich, laidback "Dehyah," which serves as a musical and aesthetic introduction to the rest of the music. The sweet-sounding guitar is complemented beautifully by Joshua Stanberry's delicate piano work. What sound like post-recording guitar additions paint a luminescent, northern lights-like backdrop.

The title tune is inspired by the solar system and Greek mythology, while "Wild Angels, is a nuanced, nicely-crafted burner, and "From Sunshine" draws its inspiration from (yes) John Denver's 1971 tune "Sunshine On My Shoulders" in conjunction with the harmonic concepts of Bela Bartok, on a tune that features the subtlest, almost subliminal whisperings of the saxophone contributions from James Griffith and Steve Carson. "Campfire Ghosts" nods again to Denver, with its peaceful, folkie feeling and Greenwood's mini-orchestration guitar workings serving as glowing backdrops.

This music—with its start-to-finish cohesion of vision—sounds like world-building, with Greenwood painting spacey soundscapes via deftly-applied post-production machinations. A marvelous debut; a marvelous recording, period. Expect a great deal more from Matt Greenwood.

Track Listing

Constellations Dehyah; Atlas; Wild Angels; From Sunshine; Campfire Ghosts; What's Left of the World; The First Mourning; Redemption; Commitment.


Matt Greenwood: guitar; Joshua Stanberry: piano; Mike Downes: bass; Dhaivat Jani: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Peter Holbrook: piano (8); Matt McCormack: electric bass (4, 10); Mark Kelso: drums (9); Matt Dicker: drums (4); James Griffith: alto saxophone (5); Steve Carson: tenor saxophone (5).

Album information

Title: Atlas | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced

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