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Matt Slocum: No Place Like Home

The drummer meditates on his native Wisconsin and other places of Sanctuary

Matt Slocum
Matt Slocum (photo: Chris Drukker)

The music on drummer Matt Slocum’s recent album Sanctuary (Sunnyside) draws inspiration from without—referencing Sufjan Stevens, Irving Berlin, Frédéric Chopin, and Ernest Hemingway—but the project actually finds its core strength through the respite offered within. “I didn’t realize it at first, but when I was looking back through these songs I noticed that they all deal with a sense of home and creative refuge,” Slocum explains. Ultimately, that grounding serves as the through line connecting these songs of solace. 

A native of New Richmond, Wis., Slocum came to music early in life. He picked up piano as a child, switched to percussion as a preteen, and found his way to jazz through drummer Phil Hey, a renowned performer/educator (and Ed Blackwell disciple) who opened his pupil’s ears to Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, and other giants of the drums. Slocum then spent his undergraduate and post-collegiate years in California, studying with heavyweight Peter Erskine at USC’s Thornton School of Music and cultivating a community with like-minded peers such as pianist Gerald Clayton and bassist Massimo Biolcati. 

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Dan Bilawsky

Dan Bilawsky has been involved in jazz journalism for 15 years. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, JAZZed, and All About Jazz, among other outlets. In addition, he’s penned liner notes for artists on Red, Capri, HighNote/Savant, Ropeadope, and other respected imprints. A band director with 20 years of teaching experience, he holds degrees in music from Indiana University, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Five Towns College.