Renowned Flugelhornist Celebrates CD Release

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
September 6, 2014

A protégé of legendary trumpeter and flugelhornist Art Farmer, Chandler musician Dmitri Matheny says he doesn't feel he deserves the reviews he's received.

The San Francisco Chronicle calls Matheny "one of the jazz world's most talented horn players," while JAZZIZ writes he's "unquestionably a master."

"It's a little bit intimidating," Matheny says with a sigh. "Just yesterday the Sacramento Bee wrote a beautiful piece.

"I don't always feel we deserve all these accolades. I studied under this wonderful jazz flugelhorn player Art Farmer. He was such an amazing musician, an historically important, significant guy and yet super humble. I don't know that he received some of the things I've been blessed with. It's crazy to me. I'm not half the musician that he was. It's a lot to live up to."

Matheny is showing off his live chops on his latest album Sagebrush Rebellion, which was released on August 9. Swinging by home on a year-long U.S. tour, Matheny is hosting a CD release party and performance at The Nash in Phoenix on Saturday, September 20. His live band features pianist Nick Manson, bassist Chris Finet and drummer Dom Moio.

"It's kind of an interesting project, this one," Matheny says of Sagebrush Rebellion. "In the past I've written a bunch of material. I usually have some sort of organizing theme. One album that I did was all music of the moon. Another is a lot of hard bop stuff from a certain era of jazz. This time it's a live show in San Diego."

Matheny—who was accompanied by pianist Manson, bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Duncan Moore on the album—was approached by an independent jazz label representative who asked him if he could record Matheny's show in San Diego. He said "Yes."

"Then I forgot about it," he says. "But then everything just happened. The show was beautiful. The band played really well. My teacher used to say, 'If you're the smartest cat in the room, you're in the wrong room.' You always want to surround yourself with talents greater than your own. Then you feel fearless. You can do anything because they prop you up."

It was one of those nights, Matheny added.

"I was in a good mood," he explains. "The crowd was great. (The record company representative) said, 'Check it out. This is gorgeous.' We didn't even really edit it. We just mastered it and turned it into a record."

Longtime Goal

Born on December 25, 1965, in Nashville, Matheny was raised in Georgia before his family moved to Tucson, where his father took a job as a teacher.

Attracted to his father's collection of jazz and classical LP records, Matheny began piano lessons at age 5 and switched to the trumpet at age 9. While in his teens, he fell in love with the flugelhorn and left home to attend Michigan's prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy and then Boston's Berklee College of Music, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1989.

After private studies with Carmine Caruso in New York City, Matheny became the protégé of Farmer, a formative relationship that lasted over a decade.

At 29, after launching a busy recording career on the West Coast, Matheny made his New York debut at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, then began touring internationally. When Farmer died in 1999, Matheny acquired his mentor's copper-bell flugelhorn.

With more than 60 recordings in his discography, Matheny says Sagebrush Rebellion is his 10th as a leader.

"We're able to do this for a living," he says. "It's nice to play music for people, travel around and make friends."

Dmitri Matheny Group performs from 7:30 to 10 pm Saturday, September 20 at The Nash, 100 E Roosevelt Street, Phoenix. Admission is $15; $12 for seniors ages 60 and older and Jazz in AZ members; $5 for students with ID. For more information, call (602)795-0464 or visit or For a full list of shows, see