An electrifying duo-duel of pianists formed with Matt Herskowitz and John Roney. Two grand pianos facing each other. Classical music and jazz merge in a burst of virtuosity! This unique show concept invites the audience to attend a concert where two pianos clash, speak and complete each other in a fusion of classical and jazz music. Undisputed masters of improvisation, these two virtuosos take pleasure in revisiting jazz standards and great classics pieces to bring it in new trails.
The Artists ....
Originally from Toronto, pianist John Roney now lives in Montreal, where he divides his time between composing, teaching and performing on the international jazz scene. As a composer and pianist equally adept in both the jazz and classical styles, his versatility attests to an astonishing range of artistic skills and sensibilities. Roney studied jazz piano, classical piano and composition at the University of Toronto before relocating to Montreal to complete his master’s degree in jazz piano at McGill University.
Since his arrival, he has played with a number of local jazz scene luminaries. Working with artists like Chet Doxas, Remi Bolduc, Effendi Jazzlab, Bernard Primeau and Jean-Christophe Béney, he has performed across Canada, Europe and the Middle East, as well as participating on a number of recordings for CBC/Radio-Canada, Global Television, JustinTime Records, Effendi Records and Swingin’ Time Productions. He has toured widely with soprano Nathalie Choquette (Canada, Japan, China, Europe and West Africa). He has also played or recorded with such legendary figures as drummers Peter Erskine and Steve Houghton, bassists Christian McBride and Alain Caron, composers Johnny Mandel, Gary Kulesha and Alf Clausen, Belgian guitarist Phillipe Catherine, and saxophonists Seamus Blake, Nick Brignola, François Théberge, Michael Blake, Jerry Bergonzi and Donny McCaslin. As a composer, he has created music for orchestras and chamber ensembles in Ontario and Quebec, as well as for radio, film, television and theatre. Other achievements including working on transcriptions and arrangements for the Triplets of Belleville (Benoît Charest) and Houdini (Elan Kunin) soundtracks as well as on various productions for Choquette. To date, Roney has released three albums, Rate of Change (2006), Silverbirch (2010) and Saint-Henri (2012), a tribute to Oscar Peterson.
Uniquely combining the superlative technique of a classical virtuoso with his prowess in jazz, world music and free improvisation, pianist, composer and arranger Matt Herskowitz has carved out a unique and personal voice in music. Over the course of the last decade, Matt has produced a series of critically-acclaimed recordings, premiered his works in settings from New York’s Central Park to Germany’s Köln Philharmonie, collaborated with top classical, jazz and pop artists, and has performed at music festivals across the globe.
His newest release, for Justin Time Records, is Matt Herskowitz Upstairs, a solo outing ranging from Gershwin to Schumann to Dave Brubeck to originals by Herskowitz, including Bella’s Lament and “Bach à la Jazz,” his arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in C Minor which Herskowitz previously recorded for EMI’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack to The Triplets of Belleville. In naming the release “Solo Album of the Year,” Le Devoir declared: “Herskowitz deploys his art with a rare passion, but without ever sacrificing musicality. Exceptional technique, precise sense of nuance, Herskowitz here brilliantly fuses his mastery of jazz and classical.” And Downbeat magazine praised Upstairs in its Editor’s Picks: “Throughout these eight tracks, [Herskowitz] displays touch, power, artistry and chops along with a firm grasp of the daring needed for a great performance.”
Upstairs follows-up Matt’s critically-acclaimed, Juno-nominated world music fusion album Jerusalem Trilogy, which features the pianist’s original compositions and arrangements in his signature synthesis of contemporary jazz and classical styles, combined with a striking blend of Arab and Jewish grooves. Among the album’s fans was the late great Dave Brubeck who commended Matt on the recording, saying: “Congratulations! You have transformed the concept of ‘world’ music as I conceived of it half a century ago. You have carried it further than I could imagine.”In addition to his jazz trio, the album features violinist Lara St. John, saxophonist/flutist Daniel Schnyder and special guest Bassam Saba on Nay and Oud. Matt and his group have performed Jerusalem Trilogy all over the world, including the El Paso Chamber Music Festival, Le Poisson Rouge in New York City, the Bremen International Musikfest, the Warsaw Singer Festival, and the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
His 2007 solo release, Matt Herskowitz Plays George Gershwin, featuring Matt’s original solo arrangements of the Concerto in F, Cuban Overture and Rhapsody in Blue, was nominated for Quebec’s prestigious Prix Opus, while his 2006 solo release, Gabriel’s Message, featuring original arrangements and compositions based on Christmas themes, was nominated for Québec’s Félix award for “Best Jazz Album.” Matt’s 1998 recording of Glazunov’s 2nd Piano Concerto with I Musici de Montréal (Chandos Records) was hailed by Strad Magazine as “by far the best performance [of the work] on disc.”
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