Matt Chandler astrometricsfrontcover

What sounds like soft “noodling” is a quick study in modes and harmonics. Guitarist Matt Chandler brings us from ethereal to picking up steam to flying high. Such sweet precision that it looks effortless. Equal weight with soloing is contributed by Ross Stanley (organ) and Eric Ford (drums). Nobody falters and fingers fly for all practitioners.

Their new CD “Astrometrics” is a clever anagram of all three musicians’ names; very apropos because they hold their own footing and meld seamlessly together. The music is easy to hear and easy to instantly love.

When did you start on your musical path?

I started playing guitar at 11. My older brother began playing and I wanted to because he was.

Favorite jazz artists?

Wes Montgomery, Ernest Ranglin, Emily Remler, Grant Green, Pat Metheny, Pat Martino, Sheryl Bailey, Jonathan Kreisberg. Other musicians I favor: Marty Friedman (Megadeth), Adrian Legg, Tuck Andress. And Wayne Shorter, Maria Schneider, Avishai Cohen.

What’s the inspiration for the CD “Astrometrics” and what was the production experience?

We wanted to do an album that relied on the human endeavor, not relying on technology to accomplish things and decide how it’s going to sound or be played.

Favorite track? 

“Doctors in the House.”

What’s the jazz scene like where you live?

It’s vibrant in London. There is a lot of interest in jazz, people come to the gigs. We are about to have the London Jazz Festival which always draws out good crowds. Jazz has an infrastructure to support it, thanks to the arts council and sites like Jazzconnects.com.

Have you always preferred to play fast with a command of the fingerwork required?

I like to play fast, as this yields more interesting shapes and contours in the mind’s eye of the listener, I think. It’s also the way the players I like play. As I get older, though, I get a lot out of playing more lyrically and sometimes prefer to listen to that kind of playing. 

Percussion- especially cymbals- figure prominently, not just as the heartbeat of the band. Why?

To be honest, it’s not something that I’ve been conscious of. At gigs I’ve noticed that the crowds have responded the most to drum and percussion solos, not just at mine but at other artists’ gigs. I guess it’s prominent in the album because there are only three guys playing and we have to make the music as interesting as possible. 

Why the organ rather than trad keys or piano?

The frequencies of the organ don’t get in the way of the guitar as much as the piano does. 

Because the organ player also controls the bass, it’s one less player to gel with while having the fullness of a larger group. As the player is in charge of bass parts and chords, s/he has complete control of the overall harmony and experiment successfully all of the time, thus yielding more successful melodic content for me as the soloist. 

Talk about your trio and how you read one another so well.

Eric and myself had been playing together for a few years in various projects before we recorded the album, so we’ve developed a great musical relationship. We know each other’s playing inside and out.

Ross is a top-level player, and he and I share a love for Pat Martino’s “Live at Yoshi’s” so I guess this also plays a part in how we work together. The first gig I did with Ross was around six years ago, but that was a one-off with Rod Youngs on drums. 

The next time we played together was early 2016. Because he is such a busy guy, gigs are far and few between, sadly. When he can’t make it, I play with another great Hammond player, Liam Dunachie. 

Where do you go in your head when you play?

That’s a hard one. To be honest I always like to close my eyes, as this puts me in tune with the guitar more. There is a sense of extreme calm when I do this. I’m listening to what I do and to what else is happening. Other than that, the activity in my head is not what people might imagine. It’s actually pretty quiet. 

What exciting chord changes and other melodic or rhythmic devices set your trio apart?

I don’t think there are any that set us apart. Where we are different is in the energy. I think we have a youthful aggressiveness that people find appealing and entertaining. 

There’s clarity in your music, not muddied by conflicting thoughts. How do you achieve that?

I think this is achieved by everyone understanding where the music is coming from and knowing that anything new that anyone wants to contribute is encouraged.

What’s the biggest challenge when you compose?

Listening to the opinions of your contemporaries. Personally, I find this very difficult. Most of my friends are composers and producers and everyone seems hell-bent on originality and not sounding clichéd.

Thoughts like these really get in the way when composing as I start to worry about whether the music is fresh or original. 

Where have you played outside the UK and how do audiences differ- if at all?

I’ve performed in France, Belgium, Holland, Bratislava and Germany. I’ve also performed in Japan and America. 

The American dates were a few shows in LA, one of which was with the great John Pisano. The audience was very cool, supportive and somewhat surprised as I remember.

Japan, they absolutely loved it, but then they appreciate anything Western. 

Around Europe, audiences were appreciative.

I don’t think there are many differences with audiences across the globe. 

Favorite mode?

Aeolian mode from Harmonic Major.

Favorite key?

G minor.

Contemporary jazz seems to have so many different approaches. Are subgenres disappearing, or is the need for labeling disappearing?

I think the need for labeling is disappearing.

Plans for the rest of 2017?

Writing music for guitar, double bass and drums with a brass section. The brass section I have in mind has a sousaphone so I’m figuring out how it could work with a double bass as well.

How do you hope to grow MC3 in 2018?

I just hope to be able to do as many gigs as possible. We are in talks with a few promoters in Germany so I hope we can get out there too. 

For more information, visit www.mattchandlerguitar.com.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.

(c) Debbie Burke 2017