Guitarist Matt Richards is one of a few contemporary musical artists who effortlessly bridges musical styles while maintaining a unique identity. While many listeners and critics are familiar with his genre-stretching fingerstyle acoustic work, others associate him with straight-ahead jazz, playing both electric and fretless guitars. Though both identities may seem distinct, they definitely belong to this one musician.
Born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Matt grew up in the culturally fertile cross-currents of the late 1960s. His musical pathway opens in the mix of folk, rock and psychedelic music that defined that decade and eventually guides him into the hyperactive jazz-fusion of the 1970s. Initially a self-taught player, Matt began earnestly developing the technically advanced musical abilities necessary to be part of that highly-energized genre. (During his tenure with the jazz-fusion group New Light, Matt was dubbed ‘the most originally creative guitarist on the Philadelphia scene’ by the Philadelphia Bulletin.) As his musicianship developed, he discovered straight-ahead jazz and classical music and began relying more on the acoustic guitar. He assimilated Spanish, Latin American and various world influences while developing his unique fingerstyle approach to solo guitar.
He has been featured as a solo artist on a variety of televised programs, including Miles of Music and Puerto Rican Panorama and performed in the independent film Smoke And Mirrors. He has performed at the CoreStates and Mellon Jazz Festivals, the Naturist Society’s Eastern and Midwestern Gatherings, National AIDS Awareness Day, Daniel Pearl Day and SUNOCO Welcome America celebrations.
In addition to his solo work, Matt has performed in acoustic duets with guitarists Larry Coryell, Jim Goodin and Emiliano Pardo and bassist Bill Zola. He is also a founding member of the acoustic-based Language of 3 and the Matt Richards Guitar Trio.
Matt has performed with a range of established artists, including Mike Clark, Starr Cullars, Joey DeFrancesco, Café del Silva, Kenwood Dennard, Essra Mohawk, Herbie Nix, Steve Oliver, Marlon Simon, Adrian Valosin, Elio Villafranca, and Bobby Zankel. Gospel vocalist Paul Middleton and rocker Nate Hawk feature Matt’s electric playing on their CD releases.
A current faculty member at Cheltenham Art & Music Center and the Academy of Community Music, Matt served as Head of Faculty at the FrankfordStyle School for Creative Arts. He frequently conducts clinics and master classes in conjunction with his performances and is currently preparing instructional articles detailing his playing technique and his personal approach to performing and arranging.
In 2000, Matt released his first solo CD In This Single Moment on his FingerMusic label and followed with his 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 the first days of 2009.