from – December 12, 2006 by Syl Nathan

Morgan Fogg & Grimmett - This Is What You Want

Matt Fogg is clearly one of the region’s preeminent musicians. It appears he can play anything – jazz, blues, swing, pop, you name it. Once again, he displays his varied musicianship, sharp production skills, and incredible keyboard acumen on this recently released group CD, which is quite different from his previous albums.

Fogg has set the bar quite high for himself; nothing he ever does will top the live performance document he issued with Nicole Hajj, Live At The Azure Café, the overall best CD released in Maine last year. However, this group, featuring Fogg on various keyboards, vocalist Cheri Gaudet Grimmett, guitarist Scott Morgan, bassist Andy Rice, and percussionist Shawn Boissonneault, comes darn close. No one should ever tar New England as an “unsophisticated” music area – not with such vibrant and original jazz music such as this coming from within its borders.

The album of mostly originals veers into pop at times, but it’s amazing in that many of the tunes are of such high quality that they could become standards. The amazing “Love/Hate Relationship” merges a clever lyric and an out of this world chord progression to challenge the listener without becoming overwhelming. “Bounce,” “Blues For Steve,” and “Huntin’” continue to forge Fogg’s rep as an outstanding composer, particularly of instrumentals. And throughout, Grimmett’s vocals charm, tease, and cajole in perfect harmony with the mood of each piece. Add to that Morgan’s fluid, expressive guitar, and it’s a complete and varied package that pleases the ears like few other local releases. Stunning.

We don’t want to lay on the hype too thick; it suffices to say that every project puts his attention to is pure gold in terms of artistic achievement. Here’s hoping he and his compatriots get the recognition they deserve for being among the east coast’s jazz elite. Written from the perspective of a New Yorker (where this review was written), Morgan Fogg & Grimmett are Blue Note bait. C’mon down; we could use more great jazz in these parts, too.

Review of Live At The Azure Cafe

from Good Times Magazine – Issue 18; June 9 – July 7, 2005 by Syl Nathan

Independently produced but as major league as any self-produced disc you’ll ever hear, Live at the Azure Cafe is certainly a treat for contemporary jazz lovers – but is tuneful and accessible enough for music fans of any stripe to enjoy.

Fogg, from Maine, performs constantly in the region with vocalist [Nicole] Hajj, and it’s not hard to see why. Fogg’s arranging skills are the equal of his fluid, expert piano style, and this disc of 11 tracks recorded during an intimate performance at Freeport’s Azure Cafe proves these are jazz musicians as talented as any performing today. It’s only a matter of time till this disc–and these musicians–break through on a national level.

At risk of laying on the hyperbole too thickly, we’ll tell you there isn’t a bad note on this entire disc. Hajj is a lilting, smooth vocalist with great range and style. Fogg’s playing is innovative without being overwhelming, proving himself a musician’s musician. And the band–bassist Andy Rice, guitarist Lucas Cantor, drummer Shawn Boissoneault and clarinetist Brad Terry–provide perfect backup for the talented duo.

The song selection here provides a perfect showcase for the duo’s skills. “Twisted,” made famous by Joni Mitchell, is given a fresh face thanks to a jazzy new arrangement. Chestnuts such as “Night and Day” and “Cry Me a River”–miracle of miracles–sound fresh and vibrant for the first time in years. Even “My Funny Valentine,” thanks to a moving, bravura performance by Fogg, rings from the speakers like a new composition. We can’t stress this point too strongly: This could be the finest disc of any genre produced in Maine this year. If your ears are mature enough to appreciate it, run, do not walk, to spend an evening Live at the Azure Cafe.