Matt Littlewood
Matt Littlewood

‘Jazz as it was, doesn’t really exist anymore,’ says Matt Littlewood

The seasoned saxophonist, pianist, and composer aims to redefine jazz music with soulful rhythms

Chennaiites, get set to Experience Jazz Like Never Before! Yes, the name of the show says it all. As Beginnings, an ever evolving music project, takes centre stage, be prepared to be immersed in some soulful jazz. Matt Littlewood, a seasoned saxophonist, pianist, and composer, who has been a prominent figure in the Indian Jazz scene since 1998, along with Sankarshan ‘Shanks’ Kini, a versatile musician, trained in tabla and Carnatic violin; Kirtana Krishna, a vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter from Bengaluru, who now resides in Auroville; Holger Jetter, a seasoned musician, trained in classical violin in Germany; and Raul, a versatile drummer known for his dynamic rhythms and intuitive groove, will redefine jazz music.

Holger Jetter
Holger Jetter
Raul
Raul
Sankarshan Kini
Sankarshan Kini

Ahead of the show, we spoke to Matt to know more about the Beginnings; jazz as a music genre and how it has evolved over time. Matt blends original compositions with re-imagined jazz standards in his latest project, Beginnings. With a fusion of jazz, Neo Soul, R&B, and elements of Indian and Western Classical music, he aims to showcase his evolving style.

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Q

What can Chennai expect from your upcoming performance?

A

We will be performing a mix of jazz standards that have been arranged and some original compositions. In many cases, we will merge several pieces together to form longer compositions — it’s like storytelling through music.

Q

How was Beginnings conceptualised, composed and what does it entail?

A

Beginnings is a reflection of my musical journey, the experiences I have had, the people and places that have been an intrinsic part of this journey over time.

Q

What are some of the misconceptions regarding jazz?

A

I don’t know what misconceptions people have about jazz. For me, jazz is simply music. It is there to be enjoyed and shared among musicians and performers alike. If this happens, it doesn't matter how people define it. 

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Q

In your opinion, how has jazz as a genre of music evolved or changed?

A

Essays could be written on this topic! But in short, jazz is now a global language where people of all backgrounds and cultures can come together and converse. Jazz as it was, doesn’t really exist anymore. Jazz is simply the vehicle to allow people to connect through music. 

Q

A jazz artiste who has inspired you and your music? 

A

There are too many to name. I have hundreds of influences including all the people I’ve played with. It would be unfair to single out one or two. 

Q

Has the evolution of technology helped/changed/supported jazz in any way?

A

Technology always supports music. It just has to be used in the right way. Like everything, it can be misused and even make people lazy. On the other hand, it can greatly transform music if well thought out and given the proper time and space. 

Q

What are projects or compositions you are currently working on? 

A

I work on many projects. I work in music and teach music full time. But Beginnings is the project closest to me.

Q

What is your message to youngsters who want to pursue jazz?

A

My message to young people is - enjoy music. Do it because you love it and find what interests you most. Be curious and creative and see what happens when you come from a place of play and enjoyment. Play, explore and listen to every kind of music. Jazz is just one form of music - see what's out there and if you gravitate towards jazz then listen to the vast body of work that is there already. There's no better way to learn music or jazz than to listen to others.

Entry free.

May 31, 8 pm onwards.

At Hyatt Regency Chennai, Teynampet.

Email: rupam@newindianexpress.com

X: @rupsjain

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