DEVELOPING ARTISTS GRANTS
2011 Grant Recipient
Oscar Peterson Grant for Jazz Performance
Matthew Chalmers, an 17-year-old drummer and vibraphonist from Toronto, will enter his first year in the Bachelor of Music Jazz Studies degree program at Humber College this autumn. A graduate of Etobicoke School of the Arts, Matthew studied drums with: Barry Romberg, Jeff Salem, Steve Mancuso, Barry Elmes, Ari Hoenig, Larnell Lewis and Raul Rekow; theory/piano/improvisation with Brian Dickinson, Mike Malone, Kirk MacDonald and Dave Neill, and participated in Music Ensembles and Classes at Humber College Community Music School . In addition to having amassed an impressive resumé of solo and ensemble performances in Toronto, he is also the recipient of numerous national and international music awards
In submitting the nomination for The Hnatyshyn Foundation jazz grant, Denny Christianson, Director of Music, Humber College said: "My first experience of Matthew was while working with him in an all-star youth band at the All-Canadian Jazz Festival in Port Hope. I thought maybe a 30-year-old top-flight pro had snuck onto the stage. As I looked up and realized I was listening to a 15-year-old, a huge smile came over my face. It was immediately evident that this was an extraordinary talent, and after following his progress closely over the last few years, I am convinced he will become an internationally recognized performer."
In adjudicating Mr. Chalmer's performance submissions, which included one of his own compositions, the jury for jazz performance was impressed by the beautiful relaxed feel of his playing. Matthew has a good melodic approach to the instrument on the trades, very conversational with a story-telling quality; great balance on the kit, between all the instruments (cymbals, toms, snare); nice touch and use of dynamics. He provided a good diversity of tunes, rhythms, grooves, and dynamics.
Members of the jury included: Mike Allen, Vancouver-based musician and Coordinator of Jazz Studies, Western Washington University; Fraser Hollins, bassist, Montreal; and Michel Lambert, musician, professor, Université de Sherbrooke.
What do you consider the most important aspect of performance?
I consider expression to be the most important aspect when playing. This is the overall goal of any artist, conveying what they feel is important and relevant to their audience. A performance, no matter what the genre, needs to express feelings and move the listeners in some way. Sometimes when I'm playing with a group and the music "isn't my thing" I like to think: "This is the kind of music and musicians I'm playing with right now; here we go!" Although the audience may not understand why something that you've just played excited them so much, they do feel it. It's most likely because you're putting everything you've got into it. Drummer Terry Clarke has a great philosophy, "Play every gig like it's your last".
It is also important for an artist to motivate, educate and inspire an audience. You need to know your audience and be able to take them from something they know to somewhere outside their comfort zone. This hopefully opens their eyes and let's them know the possibilities that exist outside their normal definition of music. Helping them through this journey by linking the known with the unknown will inspire their creativity.
Who and/or what inspires you?
I'm addicted to listening to music. I've realized that I not only have to be a great player, but I must know the work of every great jazz musician that has influenced the evolution of music. My Christmas/birthday lists are only CD's, and obscure ones at that. I feel so uninformed when someone asks me if I've heard a certain album and I haven't so I immediately go on iTunes and buy it. I listen to a wide range of music, as it all inspires me.
To get more specific about certain artists, here is a short list of people I listen to and who inspire me (in no specific order): Phil Nimmons, Rob McConnell, Barry Elmes, Kevin Turcotte, Terry Clarke, Don Thompson, Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Tony Williams, Frankie Dunlop, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Stewart, Eric Harland, Brian Blade, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Larnell Lewis, Barry Romberg, Stefon Harris, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Ahmad Jamal, Edward Simon, Miles Davis, Dave Douglas, Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Phil Woods, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Donny McCaslin, PJ Perry, Charlie Parker, JJ Johnson, Robin Eubanks, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Ron Carter, Rich Brown, Caetano Veloso, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Tito Puente, Ignacio Berroa, Rosa Passos, Kurt Elling, Stevie Wonder, Take 6, John Legend, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Earth Wind and Fire, Chicago, and so on. I call this list "short" because this is only a taste of the people I listen to and who inspire me from each genre.