This Is What You Want
Matthew Fogg's first CD (with long-time vocalist partner Nicole Hajj) was released in the spring of 2005. "Live at the Azure Café" seemed to take on a life of it's own, garnering a number of glowing reviews. Jazz Now, for example stated "the CD is pure delight from start to finish, full of fresh musical surprises from the band and Hajj's wonderful voice. But what truly puts it over the top are Fogg's playing and arrangements. He is an exceptionally gifted arranger, capable of making the oldest standards sound contemporary and fresh." Such sentiments were echoed by Good Times Magazine: "Fogg's arranging skills are the equal of his fluid, expert piano style. Fogg's playing is innovative without being overwhelming, proving himself a musician's musician." Reviews of this sort helped the disc slowly gain radio airplay in numerous states, as well as in half-a-dozen jazz-friendlier countries. All in all, it's been quite an accomplishment for an independent CD with no advertising/publicity budget! Given the fact that the project had already been featured on Maine Public Radio's "Friday Night Jazz" program with Rich Tozier (performing a live-in-the-studio concert) and the WCSH news magazine show, "207", conventional wisdom would have dictated sticking with the "formula"-applying lessons well learned and building on the established foundation! However, conventional wisdom has apparently never met Matt Fogg! Whereas "Live at the Azure Café" consisted of eleven jazz standards, this time around Matt was determined to record a CD of primarily original tunes. In a somewhat ironic twist, this move forward into embracing new directions and original composition developed into a partnership involving both past and present. Scott Morgan had co-founded a band called "Tribe" (along with his brother Doug and Rhad Davis) in 1996. When Jason Ayers joined them in 1998, the became "Tribe Describe". Cheri Guadet (not yet Grimmett) started singing with the band in the spring of 2000, and departed in the fall of 2001. Shortly thereafter, Cheri went on to co-found a "covers" band, "Retrospecticus", along with Matt and drummer Shawn Boissonneault. Joining the band on lead guitar? Scott Morgan, naturally! It seemed as if certain connections were just meant to happen...and, although Scott would depart in early 2004 (to focus on his work in "Tribe Describe"), the musical ties and personal links had been forged. At the outset of this project, Matt had developed a deep interest in the sounds of "vintage" keyboards, which led him on several long road trips in the quest to build his musical arsenal! A Wurlitzer, a Fender Rhodes, a Hammond A100, and a Leslie speaker cabinet were all taken into custody in a matter of months! On the journey to retrieve the purchased-in-advance Hammond organ, Matt and I discovered the seller was nowhere to be found. Night fell, and the ensuing hours brought discussions as to what exactly constituted felony breaking & entering, encounters with local law enforcement, and bar-hopping through some "choice" establishments before finally locating the very forgetful and embarrassed individual in question! All of this will one day be posted at length on MattFogg.com! But, all's well that ends well (as some beat poet once said), and each of these instruments has served to enhance the character and "feel" of this project. The songs that Matt and Cheri were composing, individually as well as together, seemed to transcend the boundaries of time and stylistic "convention". As the recording process continued, Rich Tozier invited Matt to bring this new assemblage onto his (previously mentioned) "Friday Night Jazz" radio show on MPR. This live-in-the-studio concert resulted in the band being asked to perform at the Festival of Cultural Exchange in Portland (8/7/05), at which they delivered two high energy and enthusiastically received sets. It was proving impossible to overlook the versatility and skills of these fine musicians-not to mention the core partnership developing. I had the good fortune to attend most of these recording sessions, and was struck by the talent of each and every participant. Andy Rice (on bass) and Shawn Boissonneault (drums) had both played on "Live at the Azure Café", and once again brought that same level of commitment and expertise to these tracks. As demands grew for Shawn's participation in other projects, Norm Bergeron stepped in, bringing his own unique and incredible percussive talents. One listen to "Go Down Moses" and you'll realize this guy possesses very serious abilities! Finally, James Campbell, drummer for the Toronto-based celtic rock band "Enter the Haggis" graciously added his talents and energy to several of the tracks while ETH was in Portland to headline the Maine Brewers Festival (11/6/05). Rounding out this line-up of stellar support: Carl Dimow and Steve Drown: Carl (a member of the renowned Portland-based Klezmer band, the "Casco Bay Tummlers") added incredible flute parts to a number of the tracks, while Steve served as the ever-patient, ever-wise guru of engineering, mixing, and mastering. And so, after many adventures and much work, here is the first CD by Scott Morgan, Matthew Fogg, and Cheri Grimmett: "This is What You Want". It's a music lover's dream, and, most likely, a radio programmer's nightmare! It refuses to fit neatly into any one genre, but rather, embraces many different forms. Blues, pop, jazz, fusion, and gospel are all well represented here. Scott, Matt, and Cheri have imbued these songs and their performances with their own unique gifts and strengths as human beings. There is humor, charm, honesty, and a sense of searching-both personal and spiritual. Every facet of their humanity is evident in this music, and they invite us to join in the journey. Scott's guitar work is at once fluid and breathtaking. Cheri's vocals convey everything from innocence to sultriness; playfulness to reverence. Matt's arrangements and his abilities on a variety of keyboards only serve to strengthen my conviction that the guy borders on genius! It has been a deep privilege to know each and every one of them, to witness the creative process, to see the light in their eyes and hear it manifested in their music...I hope you'll recognize yourselves in these songs, and trust me when I tell you: This IS what you want! Steve McKay.