Biography

 

Born and raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Matt began studying piano at the age of five with local teachers in the Asheville area.  During his early years, Matt played in numerous churches and Gospel groups, traveling to Florida, Texas, Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee.  During this time, Matt also attend the Stamps-Baxter School of Music, held annually in Nashville, TN, where he had the opportunity to study with renowned Gospel pianists such as Tracy Phillips, Tim Parton and the late Anthony Burger.  

Developing a deep love for the jazz idiom, Matt relocated to Greensboro, NC in 2013 to complete his undergraduate studies at Guilford College, graduating in 2016 with a B.A. in Jazz Piano Performance.  As part of his undergraduate studies, Matt performed in and around the Greensboro area as part of the Guilford College Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo I, including such venues as the Greensboro Coliseum as part of the Guilford College Bryan Series, which hosted guest speakers such as Ron Howard, Amal Clooney, Robert Ballard, Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Bryson.  Matt also traveled as part of a consortium of Guilford College musicians, performing in locations such as the notable Arch Street Friends Meeting House in Philadelphia and Brooklyn Friends School in New York City.   

In 2017, Matt was accepted to the prestigious Jazz Studies program at North Carolina Central University to complete his graduate studies.  During this time, Matt had the opportunity to study with renowned pianists Edmund Paolantonio and Joey Calderazzo, and perform with many top jazz artists such as Branford Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Nnenna Freelon, Antonio Hart, Brian E. Miller, Dr. Trineice Robinson, Dr. Ira Wiggins, Dr. Brian Horton, Robert Trowers and Ms. Lenora Helm-Hammonds.  While at NCCU, Matt also had the opportunity to study composition and arranging extensively with Dr. Ira Wiggins, Dr. Brian Horton and Mr. Baron Tymas.  Matt also performed as part of the esteemed NCCU Jazz Ensemble, which traveled and performed in venues such as the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville, MD, the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA for the HBCU National Band Director’s Consortium, numerous NCCU Alumni Association events, both the NCCU 28th and 29th Annual Jazz Festival in Durham, NC, the Valentine’s Day Annual Concert in consortium with jazz ensembles from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, and many other regional performance venues.  As well, Matt performed as part of the rhythm section for the NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, including performances in Reno, NV at the 2019 Jazz Education Network Conference and as part of Duke University’s In the Jazz Tradition showcases.  In May of 2019, Matt graduated from NCCU with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies Performance.  

Matt currently teaches as adjunct faculty at Guilford College and North Carolina A&T State University, instructing students in the disciplines of jazz piano, jazz history, arranging, and leading jazz ensembles.  In 2019, Matt took the helm as director of the Greensboro Youth Jazz Ensemble, and in 2020, joined the Greensboro Big Band as director.  Matt also serves as faculty at the John Coltrane Jazz Workshop in High Point, NC.  

When not teaching, Matt performs as pianist for the Gate City Ramblers, a New Orleans-style jazz ensemble based in Greensboro, NC, playing alongside renowned musicians Benjamin Strickland, Neill Clegg, Jr., Dr. John Henry and Will "MoBetta" Ledbetter.  Matt also performs regularly with his ensemble as part of the O’Henry Jazz Series hosted at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro, NC, as well as in and around the Triad area as pianist in other jazz ensembles.