The Matt Zebley Trio

Posted March 4, 2010 in Music




Matt Zebley (alto saxophone); Jeff Olson (drums); Jay Sayers (electric bass).


If it happens to fall somewhere in the realm of jazz—from traditional bop to world music flavors and big band cuts—chances are Zebley’s got it covered. 


Matt Zebley Organ Trio (2005)


While many budding musicians cite influences who have released popular recordings, toured the world and attained levels of notoriety that are statistically unreachable, jazz saxophonist Matt Zebley finds his musical heroes in a far more personal setting.


“My earliest influences are the teachers who turned me on to music and the discipline it requires,” says Zebley, citing his first private instructor, his band teacher at Yucaipa Intermediate and a Crafton Hills College instructor who allowed him, as a high school student, to interact with more experienced musicians.


Originally from Calimesa, the Redlands-based Zebley is a true local success story. First, there’s the fact that he’s gigged with some very famous musicians, including stints with Tony Bennett and Bob Dylan.


“They command respect and attention,” he says of these known musical quantities. “They captivate. And it’s their musicianship and humanity, which is the source of their success and fame. Being on stage with such luminous spirits was an incredibly inspiring experience. I learned so much from our brief time together.”


And he’s even landed a Grammy for his performance in the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Though he was excited to win, Zebley is equally humble. “To be recognized and awarded for the music you make is second only to the act of sharing it,” he says.


Zebley’s current gig is with his trio, featuring old friends Jeff Olson and Jay Sayers, with whom he’s been playing for two decades. He’s also part of the awesome swing combo Hip Pocket and teaches at USC. But his personal education proves his respect and devotion to his craft.


“There have been so many educators who took their time to help me with my questions and guide me along the way,” he says. “To this day, I still take private lessons. Connecting with older generations of musicians forms the basis for the mentoring process, which has codified jazz education since its infancy in the early 1900s. My peers are also a constant source of inspiration and ideas. I am so thankful for the many friends and artists with whom I have shared the stage and learned from, through the process of music making.”


The Matt Zebley Trio at Time in a Bottle, 344 Orange St., Redlands, (909) 307-9463; Fri, 8PM. 


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