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.