Celebrated for his warm tone, soaring lyricism and masterful technique, American musician Dmitri Matheny has been lauded as “one of the most emotionally expressive improvisers of his generation” (International Review of Music).
First introduced to jazz audiences in the 1990s as the protégé of Art Farmer, Matheny has matured into “one of the jazz world's most talented horn players” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Born on Christmas Day, 1965 in in Nashville,Tennessee, Dmitri was raised in Georgia and Arizona. Attracted to his father’s collection of jazz and classical LP records, Dmitri began piano lessons at age 5, switched to the trumpet at age 9, and took up the flugelhorn at 18.
Matheny attended the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, then the Berklee College of Music, Boston, graduating magna cum laude in 1989.
After private studies with Carmine Caruso in New York City, Matheny became the protégé of the legendary Art Farmer, a formative relationship that lasted over a decade.
Farmer, “the bebop master who defined the sound of the flugelhorn in modern jazz” (All Music Guide), was Matheny’s public champion and private mentor. Generously sharing his wisdom, experience and influence, it was Farmer who encouraged Dmitri to devote himself exclusively to the “Big Horn.”
Under Farmer’s tutelage Matheny emerged as a promising new voice in jazz.“Art Farmer’s role in the early success of Dmitri Matheny cannot be overstated,” observed writer and historian Phil Elwood. “Without Art, there could be no Dmitri.”
At 29, after launching a busy recording career on the West Coast, Matheny made his New York debut at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, then began touring internationally.
The soulful sound of Dmitri's horn garnered praise from critics and audiences alike, drawing frequent comparisons to Miles Davis, Chet Baker and—not surprisingly—to Art Farmer. Upon Farmer’s passing in 1999, Matheny acquired his mentor’s copper-bell flugelhorn.
Today, Dmitri leads the Dmitri Matheny Group, “an all-star jazz band featuring some of the most accomplished musicians in the western United States” (All About Jazz).
Matheny has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has traveled to 19 countries and has performed with many Motown and popular music acts including the Temptations, Martha Reeves, Fabian, the Four Tops, Bobby Vinton, Sandy Patty, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and the O'Jays.
Matheny has had the privilege of appearing in concert with such jazz luminaries as Larry Coryell, Nathan Davis, Amina Figarova, Tommy Flanagan, Wycliffe Gordon, Darrell Grant, Larry Grenadier, John Handy, Tom Harrell, Billy Higgins, Red Holloway, Denise Jannah, Joe Lovano, James Moody, Jean Louis Rassinfosse, Tony Reedus, Sam Rivers, Max Roach, the Rosenberg Trio, Bud Shank, Sonny Simmons, Mary Stallings, Akira Tana, Billy Taylor, Bobby Watson and Paula West.
Matheny’s discography lists over 120 albums on which he appears as a composer, arranger, producer, annotator or flugelhorn soloist. He has released eleven critically-acclaimed albums as a leader: Red Reflections (1995), Penumbra (1996), Starlight Café (1998), Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag (2000), Nocturne (2005), The SnowCat (2006), Spiritu Sancto (2007), Best of Dmitri Matheny (2008), Grant & Matheny (2010), Sagebrush Rebellion (2014) and Jazz Noir (2016).
Dmitri Matheny has received several prestigious music awards, including “NW Instrumentalist of the Year” in the 2016 Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Awards and “Best New Artist” (with Brad Mehldau, Stefon Harris and Ravi Coltrane) in the 1999 JazzTimes Readers Poll.
Dmitri Matheny is also a prolific composer and lyricist whose published compositions span the jazz, pop, symphonic, choral, chamber and world music genres. He has received premieres and commissions from Meet the Composer, St. Domenic’s Church, the Manhattan New Music Project, the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the Jazz Composers Orchestra and 20th Century Forum.
Matheny’s film scoring and soundtrack credits include the PBS documentary Mary, Paradox & Grace (1996), the short film Greenhorn Creek (1997), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art production Voices & Images of California Art (1997), and the RKO Pictures feature film Shade (2003) starring Gabriel Byrne, Jamie Foxx, Melanie Griffith,Thandie Newton, Sylvester Stallone and Stewart Townsend. Matheny also contributed original music for the horror anthology Trapped Ashes (2006) and the supernatural thriller Fire City (2014).
Matheny's most ambitious composition to date is Spiritu Sancto, the New Millennium Mass, a monumental sacred work scored for chorus, organ, percussion, brass quintet, jazz ensemble and gospel soloist, Spiritu Sancto received its world premiere on the dawn of the new millennium at St. Domenic's Cathedral in San Francisco.
Throughout his professional career as a concert and recording artist, Dmitri Matheny has distinguished himself as a dedicated educator, community leader and advocate for jazz and the arts.
Matheny presents clinics, lectures, master classes and workshops at leading universities and conservatories, and is gratified to have staged more than 500 free, curriculum-based concerts for kids, introducing over 50,000 school children to jazz.
Matheny has held teaching faculty and management positions with the Boston Center for the Arts, California Jazz Conservatory, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chabot Space and Science Center, Monarch Records and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. He has served as Director of Education, Director of Development and Director of Corporate Sponsorships for SFJAZZ, the largest nonprofit jazz presenter on the west coast, as Assistant Education Director for the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Colony at Jazz Aspen Snowmass, and as Artist-In-Residence at several universities and conservatories.
Matheny is past president of the Berklee College of Music Alumni Association, a former governor of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and a former trustee of the San Francisco Jazz Organization. His volunteer service to the field includes frequent participation in music industry conferences, symposia and grant-making initiatives. Past and current affiliations include the International Association for Jazz Education, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Western Arts Alliance, California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America and National Jazz Service Organization.