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. Hes proud of those things, but theyre all behind me, the eighteen-year-old pianist says. And thats understandable: As a young player, Savage runs the risk of being labeled a novelty particularly considering hes an autistic savant. Nevertheless, his playing is far more soulful than that term would perhaps imply. Hes got a gift and an inclination toward technicality, yes, but hes 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 youre 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 hes 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