It was in the culturally fertile cross-currents of the late 1960s that Matt Richards first opened his musical pathway. The mix of folk, rock and psychedelic music that defined that decade drew him, first, to the drums then, ultimately, the guitar. When the electronic-laden jazz-rock of the 1970s arrived, Matt was inspired to develop the technically advanced musical abilities necessary to be part of that highly-energized genre. As his talent matured, he was drawn to straight-ahead jazz, classical and world music, and began incorporating acoustic guitar into his work.
While his early musical experiences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ranged from folk-music coffeehouses to AM-rock cover bands, Matt gained regional notoriety in the early 1980s with the art-rock / fusion group New Light and was dubbed ”the most originally creative guitarist on the scene” by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He continued to expand his abilities and explore new styles and repertoire both as a solo artist, a sideman and, later, as the leader of his own groups.
Matt has performed as a solo artist at the Montreal Jazz Festival, the CoreStates and Mellon Jazz Festivals, NAMM Winter and Summer shows, the Naturist Society’s Eastern and Midwestern Gatherings, National AIDS Awareness Day, Daniel Pearl Day and SUNOCO Welcome America celebrations. He has been featured on televised programs, including Miles of Music and Puerto Rican Panorama and performed on-screen in the independent film Smoke And Mirrors.
Matt has played in duets with guitarists Larry Coryell, Jim Goodin and Emiliano Pardo and bassist Bill Zola and is a founding member of the acoustic-based Language of 3. He has performed with a range of artists, including Mike Clark, Starr Cullars, Joey DeFrancesco, Café, Kenwood Dennard, Essra Mohawk, Herbie Nix, Steve Oliver, Marlon Simon, Adrian Valosin, Elio Villafranca, and Bobby Zankel. Matt has played in support for artists such as Dave Mason, Paco Pena and Richie Havens.
In 2000, Matt released his first solo CD In This Single Moment on his FingerMusic label and followed with a second release Dayside in 2004. Matt’s third album, One In Mind, was released in May of 2008 and features live group, duo and solo recordings. Matt followed up with a live straight-ahead jazz recording Trio in early 2009 and finished 2011 with the release of a solo retrospective As You Are. He is currently wrapping up production on Live In Princeton (“a bootleg recording that ended up sounding really great”) and recording new material for a solo release.
In addition to his solo work, Matt performs with his “power jazz trio”, the Matt Richards Group, and in a “genre-crossing” acoustic duo with flutist Katherine Hei Barbato.
Though his first teaching position was as a substitute for a friend, Matt has developed a strong commitment to music education and has worked with students at all levels of proficiency. He conducts clinics and masterclasses in conjunction with his performances and is preparing a series of video lessons detailing his playing technique and his personal approach to performing and arranging.