Genuine artists and heroes share a lot in common. They don’t come along every day and when they do manifest, they come equipped with immense vision and foresight, extraordinary courage and the towering confidence to spin the world on its axis in reverse. Fearlessly utilizing a jazz trumpet, imaginative rap lyrics, modern rock angst and otherworldly tracks constructed of gurgling synthesizers and kinetic electronic beats, alternative jazz alchemist Matt Von Roderick emerges to share his larger-than-life tales of burning love, spiritual hunger, raucous rebellion and realizing dreams on “Hero’s Journey,” a twelve-tune set released Friday by Invention Records available digitally exclusively on the Bandcamp site (https://mattvonroderick.bandcamp.com). Additional digital retailers will soon carry the title and a physical CD is slated for release on February 5, 2016.
The songs that comprise Von Roderick’s boundless and colorful world on “Hero’s Journey” are an aural listening experience unlike any other. He invites listeners into his cache of cascading melodies, progressive multiphonic trumpet harmonics, clubby rhythms, futuristic sonicscapes, and vivid storytelling rhymes and spoken word play that bites, teases, romances, provokes and satirizes - sometimes bordering on the outlandish. Von Roderick wrote the album except for a sensitive yet bright-eyed instrumental interpretation of “What A Wonderful World,” an acknowledgment of his jazz roots. He produced the collection with a half-dozen producers who helped bring his daring concept to life.
Von Roderick had been toiling away in the studio for years, experimenting to develop the formula for “Hero’s Journey.” Occasionally, he surfaced to test the waters by staging extravagant live concert productions backed by seductive dancers, Broadway choreography and elaborate costumes that caused The Huffington Post to declare “Matt Von Roderick makes jazz dangerous again.” During that period, Von Roderick also released a couple of groundbreaking singles and playful videos such as “Let The Trumpet Talk,” which has been viewed over 4.5 million times on YouTube (http://bit.ly/1Z0pQkU). Today, he’s ready to share the album with the world, eschewing the traditional record industry model of months of setup time and trying to find a place on a label or distributor’s crowded release schedule. No, there’s a vital sense of immediacy and yearning passion along with empowering hope and optimism inherent in Von Roderick’s music that calls for a refreshingly different plan – his own.
“Hero’s Journey” is the debut album for Von Roderick, but in 2007, the artist released “So It Goes” commercially as Matt Shulman, his given name. DownBeat magazine described the session as “Taking jazz into the future” while the New York Times called him “a post-millennial Chet Baker.” The new outing is wildly more adventurous and comes after the long-time New York City resident relocated and reinvented himself in Los Angeles.
“I think we're all on our own ‘Hero's Journey’ of sorts. This is mine: receiving a vision, jumping off a cliff into the abyss of the unknown by moving across the country, taking on a stage name and making completely new music. In the process, I have learned and grown - a lot. And this album is what I have to show for it - so far. Represented within ‘Hero’s Journey’ is all aspects of me - from New York to Los Angeles, from Shulman to Von Roderick, and from my dark, abstract, esoteric and avant-garde side to my bright, fun, playful and uber commercial side. It's all in there,” said Von Roderick, who will soon announce a live performance date in Hollywood at The Sayers Club in conjunction with February’s CD release.
Hailed as a prodigy and the winner of the Jazz Artist of the Year honor at the Independent Music Awards over a decade ago, Von Roderick has shared his talent on stage or on record with an eclectic array of artists, including Neil Diamond, Music Soulchild, Brad Mehldau, Dionne Warwick, Tenacious D, John Medeski, Nnenna Freelon and the Saturday Night Live Band as well as in such esteemed venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. An innovator on multiple levels, he patented the Shulman System, which balances and supports the trumpet.
Accompanied by an extensive liner notes essay penned by JazzTimes contributor Matt R. Lohr, “Hero’s Journey” contains the following songs:
“Seize The Night”
"A Girl Like That”
“All For You”
“Let The Trumpet Talk”
"Baby Got Jazz”
“Life Is Fun”
“What A Wonderful World”