Matt Langley has been passionately playing Jazz since he was a teenager in the 1970's. His high school band introduced him to improvisation, which turned into a life long relationship with his Saxophone and making music with others.
Matt’s career in music has taken him to blues bars in Waterville, Maine to the famous Green Mill in Chicago, Illinois. From the Boston Globe Jazz Festival to Sunday Services at the Second Congregational Church in Kittery, Maine. Matt has also shared the stage or recording studio with Ron Carter, Richie Cole, Fred Hersch, John Tchicai, John Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood, Dave Fuzinski, Matt Wilson, Charlie Kohlhase, Tiger Okoshi, Roswell Rudd, Gene MacDaniels and many others.
Matt has been generously sharing his passion with PMAC students for almost 10 years. As a teacher of Jazz and saxophone, he is perfectly fit to be instructing at our Summer Jazz Workshops!
We asked Matt a few questions about Jazz and his teaching career - here are his answers!
Portsmouth Music and Arts Center: How long have you been teaching the Summer Jazz Workshop? How long have you been teaching Jazz in general?
Matt Langley: I just checked my copies of welcome letters and I have them going back to 2007. I'm thinking my first year might have been 2006? I've been teaching Jazz since early Charlie Kohlhase Quintet tours to the Midwest which would have been in the early 1990's!
PMAC: What are some of your favorite parts of teaching the Summer Jazz Workshop?
ML: I love the fact that we can take our time with the music and really get to know it. We've always had a large group consisting of everyone in the camp and I have had guest composers write for the group. Then we also have combos for each instructor and the combos have written their own music most of the time. I love hearing what the combos come up with.
PMAC: What are the different advantages of participating in a week long, intensive summer camp as opposed to a semester long weekly class?
ML: When you get together every day the music gets much deeper and the hang gets much deeper too. There's a whole vibe to camp that changes each day and it affects the music and communication between all the students. It's great to see them get to know each other if they're new and to strengthen their bonds if they've been at camp before.
PMAC: What life skills can kids take away from participating in this summer camp?
ML: Collaboration. Listening. Peer support. Self discovery. Leadership. Mental focus. Sharing ideas. Refining ideas. Performance planning. Program planning. Importance of free play. Creativity. Empathy.
PMAC: What is different about Jazz than other genres that might be interesting to teens?
ML: Jazz is a constantly evolving style of music that melds all genres into an infinitely arrangeable blend of composition and improvisation. Anything is fair game. Sounds just like being a teenager!
PMAC: Why is Jazz important in your life?
ML: I started really listening to jazz in the mid seventies when I was a teenager. I was drawn to the freedom of expression and the complexity of the lines played by saxophonists Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny Griffin, Dexter Gordon, John Gilmore, Sonny Rollins and MANY, MANY others. I LOVE the sound of the Tenor Saxophone. At the same time, I love the sound of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and Gentle Giant and Yes and the Beatles and MANY, MANY MORE. As I began to get more and more into playing the music, it became part of me. Improvisation, going with the flow, listening to your heart, listening to others, musical conversations on the bandstand. All of that flows into day to day life. Life is improvisation. Every day is different; a blessing to behold in the instant that it occurs and to be present and live every moment. That's jazz. That's art. LIFE!