Boy Wonder

 Matt Savage is reluctant to talk about how he became a piano prodigy shortly after picking the instrument up at the tender age of six, how he started composing a year later, how he was good enough to jam with legendary pianist Chick Corea a year after that. He’s proud of those things, but they’re “all behind me,” the eighteen-year-old pianist says. And that’s understandable: As a young player, Savage runs the risk of being labeled a novelty — particularly considering he’s an autistic savant. Nevertheless, his playing is far more soulful than that term would perhaps imply. He’s got a gift and an inclination toward technicality, yes, but he’s also approachable, and his compositions tend to come off as standards with a flair for the avant-garde rather than the other way around. His “Blues in 33/8,” for example, subverts the twelve-bar blues by deconstructing the common run in an unusual time signature while still managing to sound like the old, familiar blues.

“I like to make my ideas clear,” he says. “When you’re having a melodic idea and a really out-there idea, you have to know when to play each one.” Fresh off his ninth and latest album, Welcome Home, Savage stops in Denver tonight for a show with his original trio — guys he’s been playing with since he was eight — at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5000 East Alameda Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 388-4962 or visit www.augustanaarts.org.
Sat., Jan. 8, 7:30 p.m., 2011

 
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