Matt uses his highly-developed musical skills to draw us into a journey through improvisation and musical form. One guitar with a world of influences.
Guitarist Matt Richards is one of a few contemporary musical
artists who effortlessly bridges musical styles while maintaining
a unique identity. While many listeners and critics are familiar
with his genre-stretching fingerstyle acoustic work, others
associate him with straight-ahead jazz, playing both electric and
fretless guitars. Though both identities may seem distinct, they
definitely belong to this one musician.
Born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Matt grew up in the
culturally fertile cross-currents of the late 1960s. His musical
pathway opens in the mix of folk, rock and psychedelic music that
defined that decade and eventually guides him into the hyperactive
jazz-fusion of the 1970s. Initially a self-taught player, Matt
began earnestly developing the technically advanced musical
abilities necessary to be part of that highly-energized genre.
(During his tenure with the jazz-fusion group New Light, Matt was
dubbed 'the most originally creative guitarist on the Philadelphia
scene' by the Philadelphia Bulletin. As his musicianship
developed, he discovered straight-ahead jazz and classical music
and began relying more on the acoustic guitar. He assimilated
Spanish, Latin American and various world influences while
developing his unique fingerstyle approach to solo guitar.
He has been featured as a solo artist on a variety of televised
programs, including Miles of Music and Puerto Rican Panorama and
performed in the independent film Smoke And Mirrors. He has
performed at the CoreStates and Mellon Jazz Festivals, the
Naturist Society�s Eastern and Midwestern Gatherings, National
AIDS Awareness Day, Daniel Pearl Day and SUNOCO Welcome America
In addition to his solo work, Matt has performed in acoustic duets
with guitarists Larry Coryell, Jim Goodin and Emiliano Pardo and
bassist Bill Zola. He is also a founding member of the acoustic-
based Language of 3 and the Philadelphia Jazz Guitar Trio.
Matt has performed with a range of established artists, including
Mike Clark, Starr Cullars, Joey DeFrancesco, Cafe, Kenwood
Dennard, Essra Mohawk, Herbie Nix, Steve Oliver, Marlon Simon,
Adrian Valosin, Elio Villafranca, and Bobby Zankel. Gospel
vocalist Paul Middleton and rocker Nate Hawk feature Matt's
electric playing on their CD releases.
A current faculty member at Cheltenham Art & Music Center and the
Ambler Music Academy, Matt served as Head of Faculty at the
FrankfordStyle School for Creative Arts. He frequently conducts
clinics and master classes in conjunction with his performances
and is currently preparing instructional articles detailing his
playing technique and his personal approach to performing and
Matt releases include: In This Single Moment (2000), Dayside
(2004), One In Mind (2008) Trio (2009) and his solo retrospective
As You Are (2011). He is currently wrapping up a new solo guitar
My Jazz Story
I play jazz because it resonates within me. Of course, my definition of jazz may be a bit broader than that of many listeners. While I base myself in the 'tradition' and, in fact, love to play with swinging straight-ahead groups, I hear a lot of new ideas that fit the definition of jazz in terms of it's purpose and function and not it's legacy. No point in playing like Wes or Barney -- they already did it, and they played their own thing far better than I could ever do it. Great musicians make a personal statement when they play -- in general, jazz musicians do that more readily. I hope I do.