Berklee Student

Matt Savage

Berklee Student
Member since 2010

About Me

Matt Savage was born in 1992. Diagnosed at the age of 3 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a high‐functioning type of autism, he could not communicate easily or withstand sounds of any sort and displayed the classic signs associated with the diagnosis. For the next 4 years, his parents immersed him in intensive early intervention therapies including a program for children with autism that involved patient training and a strict dietary/vitamin regime (The DAN Protocol). When Matt was 6 1/2, he completed a special auditory integration therapy to retrain his ears and make them less sensitive to sound. This allowed him to retune both his sensory and social perceptions and his musical skills flourished at an accelerated pace. Matt taught himself to read and play piano music literally overnight. Following her son’s lead, Matt’s mother found him a proper piano teacher.

Matt began classical piano studies in 1998 under the tutelage of Elissa Putukian. He discovered jazz in 1999 through the music of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis and embarked on jazz instruction in addition to classical. Matt studied for 3 years at the New England Conservatory of Music under Eyran Katsenelenbogen. When his family moved out of state, Matt did not have a piano teacher for over a year. This changed when Matt began private studies with jazz guru Charlie Banacos in 2003.

Having been home schooled, Matt had no exposure to performing in school bands (and little experience with jazz ensembles in general), learning the language and art of music through recordings from masters of music of all genres, especially jazz and classical. He learned the history of the jazz greats through CD liner notes and jazz books. He intuitively understood theory, but Charlie Banacos filled in the pieces and taught him the terminology used universally. Charlie taught him not only the advanced concepts of music but life lessons as well. He was the most influential person in helping Matt find his own voice. Matt had no formal education in composition until he attended Berklee College of Music, though he had already written and recorded more than 70 songs by the time he was 17.

Matt recorded his first album in 1999 at the age of 7. The album, entitled One is Not Fun, but 20 is Plenty, was a project to raise funds for autism research; however, it turned out to be the start of Matt’s musical career. His early talent was recognized such that he immediately gained a fan base and was embraced by the media.

In 2000, Matt met and played piano for Dave Brubeck and jammed with Chick Corea and his band at a sound check. Dave Brubeck said of Matt: “I was amazed at how talented he is. Amazing is the word I can tell you. I keep track of young talent in kids, and he’s the first one that I met that young that was THAT talented. He has such a musical mind that it isn’t music that he has to learn. It seems like he’s such an advanced musician in so many ways already at 8.”

Matt released his second CD (and first solo piano effort) titled Live at the Olde Mill in 2001. That same year, Matt met McCoy Tyner and jammed with his band. At age 9 he formed a trio with bassist John Funkhouser and drummer Steve Silverstein.

Their first CD, entitled All Jazzed Up, was released in 2001 and was accompanied by appearances on Lifetime Television and ABC’s “20/20.” The following year, National Public Radio (NPR)’s “All Things Considered” aired a detailed piece about Matt. The story became one of the most listened-to programs of the year, winning numerous broadcast and journalism awards.

Following a crowd-pleasing performance at the famed New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Trio released their second CD, Groovin’ on Mount Everest, in 2002. PEOPLE Magazine featured Matt in their June 17th, 2002 issue, and Matt was interviewed by Katie Couric for the first of two performances on “The TODAY Show.” Matt was also a featured artist in the November 2002 issue of JAZZIZ Magazine and performed in Singapore for the President and First Lady of Singapore and other dignitaries.

In 2003, Matt appeared on “The View,” “MONTEL,” and The Discovery Channel. On April 26, 2003, Matt was double billed with Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez at Worcester State College.

The Trio’s 3rd CD, Chasing Your Tail, was released in May of 2003. It was around that same time that Matt first performed in concert with Bobby Watson in Kansas City. In June of 2003, Matt was signed by Bösendorfer pianos. He is the youngest person and only child to have become a Bösendorfer piano artist since the founding of the company in 1828.

Matt opened for Grammy‐winning singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin in July of 2003, performing a duet with her at the encore. More articles followed, including features in
Der Spiegel, the prestigious German magazine, and JazzTimes Magazine. Matt appeared on the cover of Time for Kids Magazine in its World Report Edition. And
JAZZIZ Magazine did a brief write‐up about Matt and included one of Matt’s original compositions on their CD.

The Matt Savage Trio made their debut at the famed Blue Note in NY in November of
2003. The concert was documented in a TIME Magazine article, which cited Matt (at age eleven) as the youngest performer to have played the famed venue. After a second appearance on “MONTEL” and a huge feature in Wired Magazine, Matt performed at The Kennedy Center for NPR’s live broadcast entitled “Jazz Piano Christmas”. He shared the stage with The Bad Plus, Arturo O’Farrill, Jason Moran, Stefon Harris, Karrin Allyson and Lynne Arriale.

Matt Savage made his Birdland debut (with Clark Terry on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on sax, Jon Faddis on trumpet, Marcus McLaurine on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums) in 2004. That same year, The Matt Savage Trio released their fourth CD, Cutting Loose, in August. The official CD release concert was held at Birdland on October 4, 2004.

In 2005, Matt performed with Chaka Khan at the 2nd Annual Chaka Khan Foundation Gala Dinner in Beverly Hills, CA (which also honored Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kenny G). He has performed with Chaka Khan twice since that event. Also in 2005, Matt played with drummer Max Weinberg (of Bruce Springsteen and Conan O’Brien fame) and met Wynton Marsalis.

In 2006, Matt made a special appearance in April at MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art
in New York City, in conjunction with the premiere of the three‐part documentary
“Ellington by Keys” produced by award‐winning filmmaker, Gary Keys. Several of the compositions performed by Matt were from original Duke Ellington manuscripts that had never before been published or performed. Matt’s life journey was documented in a 2006 worldwide broadcast of a film called “Beautiful Minds ‐ A Voyage into the Brain,” a three‐part series produced by German ARD television. In April of 2007, American audiences had the opportunity to view the documentary on the National Geographic Channel. Matt and his Trio also performed their first headline concert at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center on Millennium Stage as part of the VSA “Start with the Arts” Festival.

In September of 2006 the Matt Savage Trio released its acclaimed studio album, Quantum Leap, marking their first record to receive worldwide distribution via Palmetto Records (MRI/RED). The album reached the Top 25 on the JazzWeek charts and received airplay on Jazz stations throughout the country. “Quantum Leap” continued to gain popularity when it was added to Borders Books and Music Listening Stations nationwide throughout January/February of 2007. The album received superb reviews from JAZZIZ Magazine and the All Music Guide.

In the Fall of 2006, Matt debuted at Boston’s Regattabar and opened (solo piano) for Wynton Marsalis and his sextet, which also included Walter Blanding, Carlos Henriquez, Ali Jackson, Dan Nimmer and vocalist Jennifer Sanon. This was another pivotal point in Matt’s musical life, as he had the opportunity to spend the whole weekend jamming and hanging out with these excellent musicians and absorbing knowledge. He even got to ride on their tour bus.

December of 2006 brought an interview and musical performance on “Late Night with
Conan O’Brien.”
That same month, Matt was interviewed by Marian McPartland in NY for her “Piano Jazz” show on NPR. This experience was one of the most special and memorable moments of his career. He loved talking with, performing for and performing with the legendary Marian McPartland, who described Matt as a “young man (who) plays with grace, energy and originality. Jazz savant indeed!”

In 2007, the Matt Savage Trio made its first appearance at Dizzy’s Club Coca‐Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Matt opened for Roy Haynes that summer at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, performing on Glenn Gould’s piano at The National Library and Archives of Canada.

In September of 2007, the Matt Savage Trio performed for the first time at Tufts University’s prestigious Distler Performance Hall at the Granoff Music Center. During their two‐concert gig, the group recorded a live jazz album entitled Hot Ticket: Live in Boston.

In 2008, when Matt was 15, he appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” as the musical act (in January). He released “Hot Ticket: Live in Boston,” which hit #11 on the JazzWeek radio charts and garnered the #2 position in LIVE JAZZ sales on (behind only Keith Jarrett). He also signed an international subpublishing deal with SONY/ATV.

Matt played with John Pizzarelli in 2009, and recorded his original theme song for the organization AID 4 AUTISM (combining all the genres represented at the organization’s festival, including Rock, Country, Jazz, Blues, Classical, Latin, R&B, Folk, Dance and Pop) with record producer Frankie Biggz that year. In 2008 and 2009, Matt also did the Stanford Jazz Residency (performing in Joshua Redman’s and Jimmy Heath’s ensembles) and started work on the Scientific/Educational Advisory Board for AHEF (The Autism Higher Education Foundation). This organization sponsors a Boston Conservatory program that teaches music to young adults on the autism spectrum.

In the fall of 2009, Matt entered the Berklee College of Music as a freshman. He currently has a GPA of 4.0 and is on the Dean’s List.

In 2010, he recorded his latest album, Welcome Home, which features legendary alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassists Joris Teepe and John Funkhouser, and drummers Peter Retzlaff and Yoron Israel. The album hit #18 on the JazzWeek radio charts, #9 on the Roots Music Report Jazz charts, and on the CMJ Jazz chart, Welcome Home was #3 and the #1 most added album. The album is divided into two parts (“Country” and “City”) and celebrates the many places Matt calls “home.” The recording was engineered by Grammy-nominated Jonathan Wyner and engineered by nine time Grammy-winner Tom Bates.

In 2010 and 2011, Matt played with Chaka Khan, performed at the Kennedy Center again, made an appearance at a 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, played at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall for a major fundraiser event, debuted at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club and Boston’s Berklee Performance Center, and did two CD release concerts for Welcome Home (one at Boston’s Regattabar, the other at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York). The Dizzy’s gig was Matt’s first concert with Bobby Watson since their first meeting in 2003.

Also in 2011, Matt toured Costa Rica for one week as a Berklee Performing Artist/Representative for the Costa Rica International Jazz Festival 2011.

Matt already has a busy schedule of gigs for this year (2012). He just performed at Boston’s Regattabar and will play a concert in Indiana on March 3rd with saxophonist/legendary jazz educator Jamey Aebersold. In March, Matt will also play a sextet concert with Berklee students (including co-leader Erena Terakubo, Mao Sone 3and John Egizi) at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. Matt just signed to Jazz Revelation Records (a Berklee record label). This deal will allow one of his songs to be on the label’s annual compilation CD, with Berklee tour dates in the future as well. This summer, Matt will embark on a week-long tour of Japan with bassist/Berklee alumnus Shota Ishikawa and one of Japan’s greatest jazz drummers, Tatsuhiko Takeda.

Matt will officially graduate from Berklee College of Music this May (on his 20th birthday), with his last semester in Fall 2012. He plans to attend graduate school in the fall of 2013, and wants to become a jazz educator as well as a performer in the future.

Experience & Education


  • Student Ambassador for Berklee College of Music
    February 2012 to Present (over 7 years)

    Currently works alongside Berklee's Audition and Interview team during trips abroad.

  • Artist for Jazz Revelation Records
    February 2012 to Present (over 7 years)

    Signed to Berklee's Jazz Revelation Records, February 2012. Will be featured on 2012 compilation CD "Ripple Effect"


  • Played with Jamey Aebersold for Rauch, Inc.
    March 2012 to March 2012 (less than a month)

    Performance with Jamey Aebersold at fundraiser for Rauch, Inc., Elizabeth, IN, 3/3/12.

  • Berklee Performing Artist/Representative for Costa Rica International Jazz Festival 2011
    July 2011 to July 2011 (less than a month)

    Performed seven concerts in San Jose, San Ramon and Guanacaste with John Funkhouser and Steve Silverstein.

  • Leader of Quartet for Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY, NY
    February 2011 to February 2011 (less than a month)

    "Welcome Home" CD Release Concert. Played two sets with Bobby Watson, Joris Teepe, Peter Retzlaff

  • Played for Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, NY, NY
    January 2011 to January 2011 (less than a month)

    "Genius of Autism" McCarton Foundation Gala.

  • Leader of Matt Savage Trio for Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
    November 2010 to November 2010 (less than a month)

    CD release concert for "Welcome Home" with John Funkhouser and Yoron Israel

  • Leader of Trio and Quintet for Self-Released Album "Welcome Home"
    July 2010 to November 2010 (4 months)

    Album (recorded July 2010 and released 11/9/10) features Bobby Watson, Jeremy Pelt, Joris Teepe, Peter Retzlaff, John Funkhouser, Yoron Israel

  • Leader of Matt Savage Trio for Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
    June 2006 to June 2010 (over 4 years)

    Performed on Millennium Stage in June 2006, and at Terrace Theater in June 2010.

  • Leader of Matt Savage Trio for Koerner Hall, The Royal Conservatory, Toronto
    May 2010 to May 2010 (less than a month)

    Opened for and played with Chaka Khan.

  • Performed on show w/Matt Savage Trio for The Late Show with David Letterman
    January 2008 to January 2008 (less than a month)
  • Featured on show for Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz"
    December 2006 to December 2007 (about a year)

    Show taped in December 2006; aired in December 2007

  • Leader of Matt Savage Trio for Ottawa International Jazz Festival
    June 2007 to June 2007 (less than a month)

    Opened for Roy Haynes.

  • Performed on show w/Matt Savage Trio for Late Night with Conan O'Brien
    December 2006 to December 2006 (less than a month)
  • Played for Birdland, NY
    June 2004 to October 2004 (4 months)

    Performed with Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Marcus McLaurine, Kenny Washington in June, then released CD with Matt Savage Trio at Birdland in October

  • Leader of Matt Savage Trio for Blue Note, NY
    November 2003 to November 2003 (less than a month)
  • Leader of Matt Savage Trio for New Orleans Jazz Festival
    April 2002 to April 2002 (less than a month)


  • BM in Performance (Piano) at Berklee College of Music
    2009 to 2012 (3 years)