The outstanding guitarist/composer educator Matthew Finck’s remarkable musical journey literally began at birth; and through its progressive twists and turns has now hit a new plateau with his current co-led ensemble: The Matthew Finck Jonathan Ball Project. In between lies a fascinating story of influence, inspiration, search and discovery that has led to Matthew’s reputation as one of the most respected and versatile guitarists on the New York scene.
Through his father – prominent saxophonist and teacher who worked steadily in jazz ensembles, Broadway pit bands and with top name entertainers in the Borscht Belt and all over the U.S. – Matthew was surrounded by a wide assortment of musical and popular artists since childhood. This “second family" included such diverse figures as jazz artists Roswell Rudd, Anthony Braxton, Frankie Dunlop and Ed Summerlin, composer Meyer Kupferman, choreographers/dancers Maurice Hines and Mercedes Ellington, and popular entertainers Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jackie Mason.
The influence and inspiration that stemmed from these childhood experiences took firm root as the young man took up the guitar, and by the time Matthew entered high school, he was sitting in regularly alongside his father and Rudd in the Granit Band, a fixture on the Hudson Valley scene. Graduating cum laude from Long Island University in 1997 he soon after became a fulltime member of the New York scene.
A flurry of musical activities were set in motion, but none more affecting than embarking upon a five year period as a regular on the Harlem scene, participating in the organ combo tradition that was such a major part of its storied history. The camaraderie with the other musicians and the interaction with the most appreciative audiences solidified Matthew’s sense of musical expression and its effect on the listener. Surrounding this constant element in his career, Matthew continued to pursue his guitar skills with a variety of notable teachers, including Eddie Diehl, Gene Bertoncini and Jack Wilkins while also honing his compositional talents.
Over the past 15 years he has performed and recorded with such fine artists as Steve Wilson, Dennis Mackrel, Randy Brecker, John Medeski, Heather Masse and Roswell Rudd, recording and touring the U.S. and Europe with the great trombonist. An extremely versatile musician, Matthew has performed with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic with Ronan Tynan and Chris Barron (of the Spindoctors), as well as backing up such popular singers as Nell Carter and Tony Martin. He also freelances in a variety of settings including blues, rock and funk, leading his own funk band Fat Mink since 2005, and composes and performs music for video games.
Widely recognized as an innovative teacher, Matthew has always included education as an important element of his overall vision and imperative. He currently teaches at College of Saint Rose in Albany and is pursuing his Masters in Music at SUNY Purchase.
As full as his schedule is, the Matthew Finck Jonathan Ball Project is his primary musical focus these days. With a stellar lineup on their new album – including Randy Brecker, Adam Nussbaum and Jay Anderson – It’s Not That Far marks just the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable journey. Currently performing in the Northeast, a tour is in planning and the second CD will be recorded soon, adding a Hammond B3 to the mix. For Matthew, this is the new point of departure of an already rich journey of musical expression.