Matt Marshak infuses new energy into the golden era of contemporary jazz and R&B – think late 1970s through the 1980s – on Lifestyle, the guitarist’s strongest and most honest release. Mix the old-school, robust sounds of George Benson, Larry Carlton, James Brown, David Sanborn, Prince and BB King with Marshak’s thoroughly modern playing, and you have a CD rooted in the grandest tradition jazz and groove music.
“To me, the ’70s and ’80s were the golden era of instrumental music,” Marshak says. “These natural recordings remain timeless to me. The energy and soul they captured were something so special, and my hope was to revisit the formula used on a lot of those older records.”
The tight trio of bassist Gerald Veasley, keyboardist Benjie Porecki and drummer Carl Anderson complement Marshak’s licks on this organic production with minimal overdubs and absolutely no drum machines or drum loops. The result is nine original songs brimming with a palpable sense of artistry, spontaneity and improvisation. Recorded live at Secret Sound Studios in Baltimore and Marshak’s own Nuance Studios in New York, Lifestyle embodies everything fans and listeners have come to know Matt for both in the studio and during his dynamic live shows.
“We gathered on two chilly winter days at a cozy little studio in Baltimore with engineer John Grant,” Marshak says. “I came in with a rough chord chart for each tune that acted as a mere guide for what would ultimately become the recordings on this album. In the moment, these songs changed, developed, and took us to places we never imagined. We left drum loops, programming, over-editing on the side and just played some live music. This is my vision. This is my belief. Recording it live gives ‘Lifestyle’ an air of freedom you don’t hear a lot today.”
The CD’s first single, “Midtown,” is a bright and funky jazz romp and, like the rest of the project, showcases Marshak’s dexterous electric guitar work. “Jumpin’” begins with a James Brown vibe, with Mario Cruz’s brassy horns boosting the energy level. Marshak captures the blues groove of the era with “Hats and Sneakers,” his snaky guitar lines complemented with sexy horns and Porecki’s meaty and nasty organ runs. On “Last Exit,” Marshak lays down a Benson-like groove that slides and grooves like the best songs from the era.
The catchy title track recalls the best of the supergroup Fourplay with its shimmering vibe. “Dreamin’ in Dubai” offers a jazzy yet hypnotic groove with Barry Danielian on trumpet, while “One Happy Guy” captures an irresistible melody and a feel-good swing. And “I’ve Been Down” is an emotional pop ballad that transcends any musical genre, while “Mandela” is a rare acoustic performance that captures the flavor of South African music and is a song to remember.
Lifestyle is Marshak’s eighth CD and follows 2012’s Colors of Me, which featured jazz, R&B, a hint of funk and a dash of world music. It featured the hit “Cadillac Kid,” which was in regular rotation at Sirius/XM’s Watercolors. It followed 2001’s Preservation, 2004’s This Time Around, 2006’s Groovosphere, 2008’s On the Rocks (one of JazzTimes’ top jazz albums of the year), 2009’s Family Funktion and 2011’s Urban Folktales.
The guitarist recently toured the world in support of his music as he was invited to play at prestigious events like the Dubai International Jazz Festival and the Mallorca Jazz Festival in Spain. He was a familiar figure on the jazz circuit in the U.S. as well, performing at Jazz on the Vine in Wisconsin (opening for Fourplay), the Rehoboth Jazz Festival in Delaware and the River Raisin Jazz in Detroit. Marshak also toured with Canadian jazz supergroup Four80East on their 2013-2014 world tour and is now featured on their most recent album, “Four 80 East Live.” He’s also teamed up for many live shows with Marcus Anderson (Prince’s saxophonist) this last year, and the duo is bringing a new energy to the format of contemporary jazz.
Marshak also performs at such clubs as Yoshi’s in San Francisco, Scullers in Boston, and many other respected venues nationwide. He’ll be headed to the famous Augsburg Jazz Festival in Germany in September 2014.
Marshak grew up in Long Island, NY, and was first captured by the sounds of rock and roll and the blues, digging on the likes of BB King, Jimi Hendrix, Albert Collins, James Brown and Joe Satriani. In high school, he honed his chips with three well-respected teachers: Joseph “Joey” Casciano, Mike Orioles and Richard Rabatin. They all inspired in him a lifelong commitment to his craft, while Rabatin in particular turned him on to the contemporary jazz and blues guitar sounds of Carlton, Benson and Ford. While attending college at SUNY Geneseo, Matt had the opportunity to play with a blues and R&B group, as well as connecting and improvising with straight-ahead jazz saxophonist Joseph Yoon. Once out of college, Marshak performed a variety of musical styles with New York’s top original bands and artists, even drawing praise from Deep Purple’s legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.
As an independent contemporary jazz artist on the recording and touring scene, Marshak has built a sound based on inspiration, improvisation and spontaneity – reassuring listeners and fans that his music is still seated in the tradition of jazz and roots music. He has also paved a path and been a source of inspiration for new artists. His live shows feature a simple quartet that allows him to show off the talents of his bandmates. The warm and inviting presentation lets his audience really feel the essence of this unique guitar player, one who often transcends any specific genre.
Marshak’s sound is heartfelt, his guitar playing is hand-crafted, and he’s well on his way to becoming a new, original guitar voice as he continues to push the limits of jazz and groove music.