Flugelhorn player focuses on melody
August 1999
By David Steinberg

Flugelhorn player Dmitri Matheny insists on holding fast to the melody.

“I take on the approach that’s like a vocalist,” Matheny said in a phone interview from his home in Berkeley, Calif.

“I play with sincerity and deliver the melody the way a vocalist delivers the lyrics. It’s less about improvisation but more about something that’s moving, even if the music has an edge to it.

“I would say it’s jazz on the lyrical and romantic side. It’s not smooth jazz, but straight-ahead, mainstream.”

Matheny leads a piano quartet for half of tonight’s concert at the Outpost Performance Space. Santa Fe pianist Bert Dalton pays tribute to the legendary composer Bill Evans in the other half.

Matheny promised that his ensemble will play music from his new album, Starlight Cafe, which is a potpourri of standards and original pieces, including some he himself has composed. Those include his “Geneva,” (mambo), “Soca Nova” (calypso) and a tone poem, “Whisper, Muse,” which is based on Felix Mendelssohn’s overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Among the standards are “When Lights are Low” and “Corcovado.”

“The album is a live date recorded at Cafe La Note at the Jazz School in Berkeley. I play there once a year. I’m at home in the Bay area between December and March and I tour from April through late November,” he said.

Matheny has played flugelhorn and trumpet but focused on the former when he began studying with Art Farmer in Boston.