Formed originally as a one-off function band, Retrospecticus has become one of the most sought-after function bands in Southern Maine. Performing at weddings, corporate functions, and parties of all sizes, they are a group of professional musicians who are skilled and dedicated to their craft. These photos were taken from a show in Freeport, Maine in 2009.
Matthew Fogg & Nicole Hajj: Live At The Azure Cafe – Music Review
by Liz Singer from www.hotindienews.com, posted December 15, 2008
Throughout “Live at the Azure Cafe”, the latest album by Matthew Fogg and Nicole Hajj, Hajj’s voice is crystal-clear and stunningly jazzy, while Fogg’s piano skills are solidly spectacular. On “Cry Me a River,” the instrumental introduction makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a dream as the melody takes you to a faraway place. And once the vocals kick in, it becomes clear that these musicians’ talents are ones to be reckoned with.
“It Never Entered My Mind” mixes it up with a funky-fresh intro, toe-tapping beat, and upbeat, airy mood; it sounds like you’re like stepping onto the city streets early in the morning, ready to take on the day. Hajj’s voice dazzles through and through, sounding exactly like the amazingly sweet voice of Eva Cassidy. Between the wonderful vocals and almost-too-perfect instrumental riffs, I honestly couldn’t decide which I loved more.
With its strumming bass intro, “Twisted” is classic jazz at its best. My favorite track, though, is a remake of Norah Jones’ “The Nearness of You.” A personal favorite song of mine, I absolutely fell in love with this slightly slower, jazzier rendition. Both voice and keys are 100% “on,” and it’ll be no surprise when this duo reaches a similar fate as Norah herself.
On “Night & Day,” Hajj’s vocals continued to give me goose bumps as she hit higher, breathier notes, singing emotional lyrics about love. And on “Summertime,” her voice is as cool as a cold glass of lemonade, singing, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.”
Slower and jazzier than ever, this track proves that even a jazz duo can create a diverse, eclectic album that constantly keeps listeners guessing about what they’re about to hear next.
From beginning to end, “Live at the Azure Cafe” proves the versatility of both Matthew Fogg and Nicole Hajj, as they skillfully re-create timeless songs to better fit their own talents and turn the old into something new, and—as is the case here— even better than the originals.
Demo Tracks (2008)
Jaye Drew & A Moving Train
A R&B-Funk-Rock project with the incomparable singer Jaye Drew.
1) Fallow Ground
2) Crime Of Passion
3) Say Something
4) Trouble And Time
Jaye Drew – vocals and guitar
Matthew Fogg – keys, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, piano, Hammond C3
Scott Morgan – lead guitar
John Sullivan – bass guitar
Shawn Boissonneault – drums
Matthew Fogg: First Yamaha Artist In Education Endorsee
from Accent Magazine Winter 2008, Volume 68
Yamaha is proud to announce 28-year old jazz pianist and teacher Matthew Fogg is the first endorsee under a new program titled Artists in Education. Living up to Yamaha’s long and dedicated history of supporting music education, Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs, Inc. has developed this new program to support those devoted to both creating and teaching music.
“This program was important to us because we wanted to be able to support the world-class musicians who also dedicate their time to education,” saya Chris Gero, Vice President of Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs, Inc. Fogg says he is thrilled to be welcomed into the Yamaha Artist family and to be recognized for both his playing and teaching, two things that hold equal importance in his life. Fogg plays and teaches with Yamaha acoustic C2 or C3 conservatory grand pianos and a U1 upright piano.
“It is an exciting new step forward for all of Yamaha as we recognize the contributions to music and music education by these new Yamaha Artist educators,” says Mike Bates, Director of Yamaha Institutional and Commercial Services. “Far from the old adage ‘those who can’t perform teach,’ these fine musicians are also straight-ahead great performers, inspiring their students to reach for the highest quality performances they can achieve…and showing them how it’s done.”
Fogg’s musical journey began as a trumpet player at the ag of ten, but after taking an interest in legendary jazz musicians Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett during his high school years, he quickly developed a passion for jazz piano. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Music Education with an emphasis on piano. Following graduation Fogg embarked on a career as an educator, working as the director of choral music at Morse High School in Bath, Maine. Ever drawn to the world of creating and performing, Fogg maintained an active schedule as an artit as well.
“It was never a question of either/or or me. I always wanted to be a teacher, but playing came very natural to me as well,” says Fogg. “Ultimately I ended up with two seperate career paths that were joined by the love of music. I feel like being an educator complements being an artist becaue it leads me through a constant process of discovery.”
While at UNH, Fogg began a musical colaboration with Voclist Nicole Hajj, and it was with her that he recorded Live at The Azure Cafe, an album that garnered glowing revoews and recieved airplay in numerous states and half a dozen countries. In 2005, he was asked to join an impressive roster of artists performing for jazz legend Clark Terry’s 85th birthday celebration. In May 2006, he released This is What You Want, an album that allowed Fogg to experiment with vintage keyboards and embraced a wide range of musical styles. As with Azure, it was greeted with consistently positive reviews and earned him special praise for his keyboard and arranging skills.
Fogg continues to educate, currently spending his daylight hours as the Music Education/Choral Music Director for the Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland, ME. He is also the adjunct professor at Bowdoin College and at the University of Maine in Augusta.
Success Stories: Matt Fogg – Teacher And Musician
from The Maine Switch January 10, 2008 by Amber Olesen
Living on the West End in Portland, married with a 4-month-old son, Matthew Fogg juggles a very busy lifestyle. Both a musician and teacher, this 29-year-old has a long list of artistic activities and musical interests.
Developing his talents at a young age playing trumpet, Fogg entered the Regional Music Festival. But after hearing a jazz trio play, he set his sights on piano, which proved to be a better fit. He attended the University of New Hampshire and received a degree in music education, and Fogg now uses that knowledge to teach jazz piano at Lyman Moore Middle School, in classes at the University of Maine in Augusta and Bowdoin College and privately at the Tony Boffa School of Music.
“Teaching informs and enhances my music vocabulary … we pull out a tune, start working and they plant a seed,” Fogg says of his students. He describes teaching music as an improvisational relationship — never dictating. Fogg speaks enthusiastically of having specific goals for his students but encourages them to have fun and explore their own talents. Working with students of all levels and abilities lends inspiration to Fogg’s own music.
In addition to teaching, Fogg has several ongoing ventures. He does freelance work as a jazz pianist, playing at Azure Café in Freeport as well as clubs, restaurants and private parties. Fogg frequently teams with singer Nicole Hajj and they recorded a CD together in 2005 called Live at the Azure Café (Find it at www.mattfogg.com). In 2006, Fogg recorded an original CD called “This is What You Want”. Also a member of Jaye Drew and A Moving Train, a hip hop/funk band, Fogg says the band is “five different people with different backgrounds coming together to create an original sound.” A CD is in the works for this group as well. Fogg also makes time for Retrospecticus, a cover band made up of friends, which plays the local bar scene. Fogg was the first recipient of the Yamaha Artist in Education award, given to recognize performers who spend time teaching others. “I would love to use my music advocacy and convince people to do more incredible things with music in schools and different organizations,” he says.
About six months ago, Fogg began to focus on his voice and singing capabilities. “As I grow up and get older, I think of what I can do to have a successful music career,” he says. “Learning to combine musical talents with personality is the key to branding as an artist. Once my vocals are on point, I am going to cut my own album, combining the piano with the vocals. “My utopic world would be to wake up, have a cup of coffee, play with my child and then go down and make music in my studio.” When applauded for how much he does for the music community, Fogg simply says, “We all do what we do and try to make a positive impact.” As a composer, performer and teacher, he seems well on his way to influencing the musical world in Maine and beyond.
Twenty Is Plenty
from Port City LIFE November 2007 by Mindy Favreau
To counter the undeserved but perhaps prevailing wisdom that says the current group of recent college graduates-sometimes called Generation Y, sometimes called Millennials-is (fill in the blank; self-absorbed, brash, too plugged in to look up from their computers), we decided to zero in on a few 20-somethings in Maine who are already making a contribution in their fields. What’s more, these four demonstrate that you don’t have to leave the state to be successful. And to bolster our argument in favor of these new kids on the block, we had four other 20-somethings write up their profiles.
Matt Fogg, 28, wasn’t always a gifted musician. He joined the band in fifth grade and quickly became, he says, “the worst trumpet player in the whole school.” Still, the Biddeford native persisted, and in high school he auditioned for a spot in a regional music festival. He didn’t get it. But what happened at that audition changed the course of his musical career.
“Walking out, I passed this jazz audition, and it was awesome,” he recalls. I just thought, “What is this sound I’m hearing?” For the first time, I knew what I wanted to do. It was like a lightning bolt.”
Fogg started taking piano lessons, auditioned the following year at the same festival as a jazz pianist, and made the cut. He bought his first tuxedo not for the prom, but for his first major gig at the swanky former Seascapes Restaurant (now Pier 77) on Cape Porpoise.
Now, over ten years later, Fogg has turned his passion into a busy career. Some nights he’s entertaining dinner guests at the Azure Cafe in Freeport. Other nights he’s offering up high-energy renditions of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” with the band Retrospecticus at the Montsweag Roadhouse in Woolwich. He’s already put out three CDs-two with vocalist Nicole Hajj, and one with vocalist Cheri Gaudet Grimmet and guitarist Scott Morgan. A fourth, a collection of hip hop and funk-inspired tunes with the band Jaye Drew and a Moving Train, is due out next spring.
In his various collaborations, he plays everything from blues, jazz, and gospel to 1950s pop, 1980s hair band rock, and hip hop. “Anything that I do, I take it to the nth degree,” he says. “When I get passionate about something, I have to immerse myself in it.”
By day, Fogg, who has a degree in music education, teaches jazz piano or vocals at Bowdoin College, the University of Maine at Augusta, and the Tony Boffa School of Music in Westbrook. For the past three years, he’s directed the chorus at the Lyman Moore Middle-School in Portland, luring “kids who never come to the band and chorus room” with musical programs that include Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with guitar solos. “My teaching philosophy for kids that age is to get as many as possible interested in loving music,” he says. This philosophy has earned him national attention. Earlier this year, he was featured in Keyboard magazine, and in August he received the very first Yamaha Artists in Education endorsement.
Lately Fogg’s been sticking closer to home for his latest project: fatherhood. In September, he and his wife, a nurse, welcomed their first child, a son named Paxton. “I like the high energy lifestyle, but managing my time is tough,” he says. “If I’m not working on anything, I fall into a funk. I just keep wanting to create art. That’s the driving force-the passion to do something different.”
-Mindy Favreau, a 2007 summa cum laude, graduate of Colby College, works as an editorial assistant at Maine Biz.
Thumbs Up — Play The Jazz, Wear The Blues
from The Times Record
Strike up the band for Matt Fogg, the former Morse High School choral director, for becoming the first recipient of the Yamaha company’s Artists in Education endorsement. The Jazz Times reported last week that Fogg, 28 and now a teacher at the Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland, will help launch the program devoted to teaching and creating music.
Based on his achievements at Morse after assuming the baton for the choral program there in 2001, Fogg brings a perfect mix of skills to the new initiative.
The creativity it takes to perform as a jazz pianist, which Fogg does when he’s not teaching, fortifies the leadership, diversity and dedication that remain prerequisites for teaching music in schools. “I want to change people’s mind about what it means to be a high school musician,” Fogg told The Times Record in a 2003 interview. It’s about stretching the ears of the students, which will stretch the ears of the audiences.”
The skills required to play an instrument or sing complex chorale arrangements translate well to other academic disciplines. Yet band and chorus don’t merit much respect from a state educational hierarchy that seems intent on defining Essential Programs and Services in the narrowest possible way.
Perhaps Fogg’s national recognition will tune up that dissonant note.
Matt Fogg: Artist In Education
Matt was honored to become the first ever Yamaha Artist in Education endorsee in 2007. At the time, he was teaching in Portland at Lyman Moore Middle School. Since then, his commitment to musical education has only deepened as he is the co-founder of the Midcoast School of Music, which has campuses in Bath and Portland, Maine.
Morgan Fogg & Grimmet: This Is What You Want – Indie Music Review
from Hot Indie News by Darkside
This Is What You Want by Morgan Fogg and Grimmett is best described as having three sections: vocals, lyrics and musicianship. These three distinct categories are varied stylistically and in terms of talent, which makes for an interesting melange, and an engaging (if occassionally confusing) listen.
Starting off with lyrics, this album has Christian-based lyrics counterpointed with songs about booze. The idea of lyrics reflecting Christian ideas is an ingenious one, though occasionally seemingly out of place. The songs with lyrics, however, happen to be exquisetly crafted, and singer Cheri Gaudet Grimmett does a good job of integrating them into the album’s sound.
Ms. Grimmett sounds like a lounge singer, and does that title a service. Initially, her voiced sounded strained, as if she were attempting to pull off ‘smoky’ (which, if she was trying to do, she failed at), but as the album progresses, she seems to settle into her own style with a beautiful, sonorous, controlled voice. By the penultimate song, “Go Down Moses”, she has firmly and smoothly integrated herself into the sound of the album.
The music throughout is superb. Fogg’s Fender Rhodes, Carl Dimow’s flute, and Brad Terry’s clarinet all shine throughout the album; they are all magnificently played, and have impressive solos throughout.
The highlight of the album, however, is Matt Fogg on the piano. Fogg has spent a lifetime creating music, first as a trumpeteer, later moving onto piano. His expertise as a jazz pianist is obvious from the first note, and is consistently held. Furthermore, he posses a range that is simply astonishing- he adeptly changes styles, from restaurant-jazz (background music that you start paying attention to) to true blues-style, and everything in between.
Jaye Drew and A Moving Train
Led by a soulful singer-songwriter, Jaye Drew and A Moving Train was something totally unexpected when the group debuted. Although they lasted only one album, it was a stunner. These photos were taken from a shoot and included members of the band. Photos by Matthew Robbins.