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Introducing Matt Eakle: Jazz Flute (Spring Fest Presenter) | Gina Sobel

Wednesday, May 05, 2021 5:48 AM | Gina Sobel (Administrator)

As a jazz musician, I listen to a lot of sax players and guitarists - while there are a handful great jazz flutists, none have really resonated with me, and the instrument can sometimes be used as a sort of gimmick within the genre. Matt Eakle is the exception.

I first met Matt when I was about 12 years old after a David Grisman Quintet concert at the storied Birchmere club near Washington, DC. My parents took me to so many fantastic jazz and fusion shows when I was a kid, and the DGQ was one of their favorites at the time; blending jazz, bluegrass and Latin influences in a high energy and highly interactive style. After the concert, Matt spent 30 minutes talking to me (a relative beginner) about the flute and what I could do with the instrument - it was incredibly inspiring.


Soon after that, Matt released his album "Flute Jazz," which I listened to on repeat for most of high school - I can still sing many of the solos along with the recording. When I listen to it now, I hear how much I learned from Matt as my sound and style began to develop during that time. Over the years, I stopped by his old spot in the bay area whenever I was there on tour for a lesson, and I'm grateful to be Matt's friend and colleague today.


I'm so excited about bringing Matt to Spring Fest this year. His insights into tonal colors, listening and improvisation are amazing, and I'm looking forward to all he has to share with our community! His workshop (Flute Phonics and Improvisation) will be held Saturday May 22nd at 10:30AM.

Matt's Bio:

Matt Eakle and his flute have been blowing crowds out of their chairs and onto their feet since 1989 as the first wind player to share the front line with David Grisman in the David Grisman Quintet. He’s featured on 14 Acoustic Disc CDs with the DGQ, Jerry Garcia, Enrique Coria, and as the leader of his own jazz trio on the CD, Flute Jazz. On these and hundreds of other recordings, Matt takes people’s preconceived notions of what a flute can do and blows them inside out.

Since the beginning of his professional career in 1976, Matt has performed in rock and jazz bands as well as symphonic, ballet and opera orchestras. In 1978 he met jazz guitarist and professor of classical guitar at S.F. State University, Davis Ramey, with whom he performed in a duo for 30 years. They added cellist, Mark Summer, of the Turtle Island String Quartet, and as Trio Con Brio, were known both as consummate jazz improvisors, and interpreters of classical masterpieces.

Matt appears on 4 CDs with Jerry Garcia including the Grammy nominated So What with Garcia/Grisman. His other Grammy nominated recordings are Simple Pleasures with banjo virtuoso, Alison Brown, and Dawg 90 with the David Grisman Quintet. You can also hear Matt featured on Chris Isaak’s recording, Notice the Ring, and on the bass flute providing a mellow setting for Bonnie Raitt’s, Home. He performed with the mariachi group, Los Camperos, in Linda Ronstadt’s theatrical production, Mas Canciones de Mi Padre.

Matt’s ability to mimic the sounds of Japanese, Arabic, Native American, and East Indian flutes with the silver flute is unique. His note bending, growls, singing, percussive sounds and circular breathing combine to create an alchemy which transforms the silver flute into bamboo, cedar or ebony. You can hear this in Matt’s recordings with Indian tabla master, Zakir Hussain, Japanese koto virtuoso, Shirley Muramoto, Arabic percussionist, Vince Delgado and Pakistani singer, Afqat Ali Khan.

Matt performed and recorded with new age piano pioneer, Suzanne Ciani, and toured Europe and Asia as a member of her group, The Wave. Their DVD, Suzanne Ciani and the Wave, is often used in Public Television membership drives.

His involvement in the fight to preserve the Headwaters Forest led Matt to produce the Headwaters Project, a compilation of music evocative of, or inspired by the wilderness. Paul Winter, David Grisman, Zakir Hussain, Norton Buffalo and Paul McCandless are just a few of the incredible musicians with whom Matt collaborated on this project.

Matt recently worked with Darryl Cherney as Musical Director of the documentary film Who Bombed Judi Bari?. His flute can also be heard in the critically acclaimed documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.


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