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George Matoian: Straight Ahead

Jim Santella By

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Originally from Illinois, tenor saxophonist George Matoian has worked the clubs for 35 years. From Long Beach, California blues bands in smoky joints along the coast, to other Los Angeles area establishments, Matoian has paid his dues. And it shows in his music. Picking up an education along with his experience, the saxophonist has a degree in music from San Diego State University, where he studied with Charles McPherson. Matoian also studied with Rich Matteson at North Texas State University. More background information may be found at http://www.gemtone.com/jazz/jazz.html .

Matoian’s last recording, 12 Bars All Night, exhibited a combination of jazz, blues and comfortable pop. Straight Ahead, on the other hand, stays with an exciting hard bop approach that finds the saxophonist improvising over set chord changes and lighting creative fires. It’s timeless music. While "Yardbird Suite" demonstrates technical proficiency, it also provides a spark that ignites Matoian’s vibrant improvisation. "On Green Dolphin Street" and "Footprints" evoke familiar harmonic messages around which the saxophonist plies his trade. From Henry Mancini, "The Days of Wine and Roses" offers a lengthy look at the saxophonist’s lyrical side; here also we see inspired improvisation. Similarly, Joe Henderson’s "Recordame" features Matoian’s full, clear tone and experienced passion. Not a long session, the album measures only 38:23; however, what has been laid down is certain to please straight-ahead listeners. Recommended.


Track Listing: On Green Dolphin Street; Yardbird Suite; The Days of Wine and Roses; Recordame; Footprints.

Personnel: George Matoian- tenor saxophone; Lance Saegusa- guitar; Daniel Brodo- acoustic bass; Mike Indovina- drums.

Title: Straight Ahead | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: GemTone Records


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