Here's what people are saying:
"With so many high-caliber big bands, college and professional, on the scene today, one sure way to separate the sheep from the goats, so to speak, lies in the quality of music they perform, and it is here that the Tom Matta Big Band has a decided advantage. Matta's name and reputation are well known among jazz fans in the Chicago area, not so much elsewhere—and that's too bad, as the Minnesota native's knack for writing tasteful and exciting big-band charts is second to none. Matta wrote and arranged every number on Components, his debut as leader after years of playing in and writing for groups of various sizes in his adopted hometown, and the end result is a series of sharp and colorful themes that exemplify the best in contemporary big-band music-making.
Nowadays, almost no big-band album is complete without "Another Shuffle," and Matta places his at the forefront, a sunny refrain that cushions earnest solos by pianist Jeremy Kahn and trumpeter Bob Lark, Matta's teaching colleague at Chicago's DePaul University. The breezy "Time to Spare" embodies forceful statements by trombonist Steve Horne, trumpeter Marques Carroll and tenor saxophonist Mark Colby who is out front again, this time with pianist Ron Perrillo, on the deceptively powerful "Components." Matta slows the pace on "August Dreams," a handsome ballad whose discerning solos are delivered by Kahn and trombonist Tom Garling. As there are no liner notes, one must guess to whom "For Gil" was written; Gil Evans, perhaps? In any case, it's a laid-back tune whose melody brings to mind the standard "Time on My Hands" and on which alto saxophonist Chris Madsen and guitarist Mike Pinto share blowing space. "Eleventh Hour," written for trumpeter Rob Parton's band, is the session's flag-waver, Lark and tenor Dan Nicholson its ardent soloists. Nicholson, Pinto and trombonist Tim Coffman are suitably enlivened on the seductive finale, "Next Season."
Even though Matta's name may not ring a bell, don't let that dissuade you. His c.v. is impeccable, his talents exceptional, and he has gathered around him a number of the finest jazz musicians Chicago has to offer (we've not even mentioned the splendid rhythm section, securely anchored by drummer Bob Rummage and including Pinto, pianists Perrillo or Kahn, and bassists Dennis Carroll or Joe Policastro). These are among the Components that help raise Matta's debut above the ordinary and make it an extra special experience." (Jack Bowers, AllAboutJazz, March 8, 2013)
"Tom Matta Big Band – Components – independent through CD Baby - A superb big band effort with first-class composing, arranging and soloing. Nothing raucous or blaring – just well-orchestrated substance." (Rick Erben, KIOS 91.5FM "JAZZ JUNCTION BEST OF 2012")
"Tom Matta Big Band, Components: Debut album, straight-ahead big band sound. 17-piece ensemble of musicians from the Chicago scene. Good music for fighting back the chill of autumn turning to winter." (Dave Sumner, emusic "JAZZ PICKS")
The obligatory bio:
Thomas Matta boasts a body of work as a musician that spans an impressive spectrum of genres, styles, and disciplines. An active performer, Thomas has performed extensively across North America, Europe, and New Zealand, and is one of the most sought-after bass trombonists in Chicago's recording studios, concert halls, theater pits and other live-music venues. Thomas has performed and recorded with a diverse array of talents including the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Frank Mantooth Jazz Orchestra, the Rob Parton Big Band, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the Mulligan Mosaics, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Art Garfunkel, Jimmy Heath, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Fulcrum Point, The Colorado Symphony, Concertante di Chicago, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra and many others.
His compositions and arrangements of have been performed and recorded by premier orchestras, big bands and chamber ensembles worldwide – many of which are published by Kendor Music, Doug Beach Music, Andel Editions, and the UNC Jazz Press. He is proud to have contributed scores to the repertoire of jazz luminaries such as Phil Woods, Randy Brecker, Bill Reichenbach, Jon Faddis, Jeff Hamilton and Clark Terry, to name a few.
The Tom Matta Big Band, comprised of a veritable “who’s who” of Chicago’s thriving jazz scene, is an ensemble dedicated to the performance of music written for and by members of the band. The future is promising for an increasing itinerary of appearances at clubs, festivals, and educational settings by this stellar big band.
“I finally decided to step up and create a band to play my music just how I want it played,” says Matta. “Specifically, I wanted to surround myself with musicians who are not only world-class improvisers, but whom are equally committed to the very highest level of ensemble playing.”
Thomas is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at DePaul University, where he teaches the undergraduate and graduate courses in Jazz Composition & Arranging, Applied Jazz Composition & Arranging, Applied Tenor and Bass Trombone, and conducts the Jazz Orchestra.