MATT MUNISTERI'S TROPICAL HOT CLUB PARTY
It’s a daunting task, this business of encapsulating Matt Munisteri’s musical self. As the sparkling guitarist on several chart-topping jazz CDs; a critically lauded songwriter and nimble lyricist; an urban banjo-warrior and a sometime session musician; a selfless and devoted sideman; a wry-yet-honest singer; an engaging and winning front-man; and an arranger whose ear-pulling re-inventions of well-traveled songs have contributed to Grammy winning CDs for artists such as Loudon Wainwright and Catherine Russell, Matt’s various dueling career paths might at first seem difficult to reconcile. Additionally you’d be hard-pressed to find another Brooklyn native who grew up playing bluegrass banjo since he was in the single digits; who has recorded with artists as divergent as consummate jazz balladeer “Little” Jimmy Scott and 1980’s avante-noise godfather Glenn Branca; who is regarded as a contemporary master of 1920’s and ’30’s jazz styles, and is an ardent student of American folk traditions, but counts among his regular creative cohorts several musicians associated with the New York Downtown music world. Yet ultimately Matt’s journey through 20th century American music yields a vision which feels intrinsically whole, with his own music always serving as one-of-a-kind reflection of a life immersed in all the far-flung variants of American Popular Song. Maybe it’s easier to say that whatever he’s currently up to, it will be a living reconciliation of rural and urban, long-gone and contemporary, individual experience and canonized scripture.
Though an instrumentalist of prodigious technique, and a relentless improviser, Matt has always felt a primary connection to songs, to their forms and emotional landscapes, and his skills and originality as an accompanist have lead to calls to record with some of today’s most soulful and individual singers. These include Holly Cole, Madeline Peyroux, Liz Wright, “Little” Jimmy Scott, Geoff Muldaur, Sasha Dobson, and Kat Edmondson. Outside of the jazz world, Matt was a key player on Loudon Wainwright‘s 2010 Grammy-winning CD High Wide and Handsome – The Charlie Poole Project, to which he contributed arrangements, guitar, and 5-string banjo. He is credited on over 70 CDs, including recent releases by trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, and guitarist Howard Alden. In mainstream jazz contexts he has concertized with The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Kenny Davern; Andy Stein; Matt Glaser; Tim Kliphuis; Aaron Weinstein; Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks; Frank Vignola; Jon-Erik Kellso; Evan Christopher; Duke Heitger; Bob Wilbur; Bucky Pizzarelli; and Dick Hyman. With the moorings loosened he has enjoyed long and fruitful associations with like-minded free-ranging wanderers such as Rachelle Garniez, Jenny Scheinman, Gina Leishman, and Greg Cohen. As one third of The Millennial Territory Orchestra‘s rhythm section (along with Ben Perowsky and Ben Allison) his versatility and electric guitar chops are regularly honed – especially when the group is augmented by guests such as Bernie Worrell, Vernon Reid. In 2014 Matt joined drummer Herlin Riley and bassist Reginald Veal to form the rhythm section for “Viper’s Drag”, the first CD by New Orleans’ piano giant Henry Butler, Steven Bernstein and The Hot 9 (Impulse)