Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a gifted San Francisco bassist and composer whose alluringly original music draws on a rich range of classical, jazz and indigenous music,” Matt Small has been developing his own cutting-edge, multi-genre work in the Bay Area since 1997. With a deep dedication to his craft and an unrelenting spirit of curiosity, Small explores a wide variety of musical traditions while exercising “a strong aesthetic sensibility” (Down Beat Magazine). Small has found inspiration from a vast array of music, including jazz, experimental, popular, Western classical, and indigenous music styles from around the world.
To date, Small has performed at, and had his music presented by Carnegie Hall, The Monterey Jazz Festival, SF Jazz, amongst many other prestigious venues.
As a bassist Small has performed or recorded with artists and organizations such as Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (featuring Sandeep Das, Kayhan Kalhor, Wu Tong, Alim Qasimov, Wu Man, Ko Umezaki, Shane Shanahan, members of Brooklyn Rider String Quartet among others), Lev and Alexander Zhurbin, Daniel David Feinsmith, and countless other performers and ensembles.
As a performer, composer, and producer, Small currently leads three distinct ensembles: The Crushing Spiral Ensemble, Matt Small’s Chamber Ensemble, and The Bedlam Royals. Small has released four CD’s with his groups (with three upcoming releases), showcasing a wide variety of compositional work that has been lauded in the local and national press.
Over the years, Small has been invited to perform in a number of private concerts with such artists as Clint Black, Arturo Sandoval, Tom Scott, Shelly Berg, Gregg Field, John Handy, Mads Tolling, Laurence Hobgood, and members of the Silk Road Ensemble, for a variety of public figures such as Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Oscar de la Renta, Jayne Wrightsman, Phil Ramone, Tom Brokaw, and Carnegie Hall’s Board of Directors, among others.
As a consultant to non-profits and Fortune 500 companies, Small has helped build bridges between the arts and music worlds, and the education and business communities, through a wide variety of collaborative projects at the local and national levels. By applying the principles of creativity and innovation that are fundamental to the music world, as well as the arts in general, Small has contributed to numerous cross-sector projects that have addressed the national dropout rate, STEM education issues, and the future workforce concerns of businesses and the communities in which they reside. Through his collaborative partnership with Los Angeles-based nonprofit Birth2Work, Small has served as a consultant to such organizations as Boeing, McDonalds, State Farm, Thomson Reuters, America’s Promise Alliance, The Santa Fe Institute, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), National Science Foundation (NSF), and others.
Before arriving on the West Coast in 1997, Small attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and College of Liberal Arts in Ohio. At Oberlin, he studied classical music and jazz with Oberlin’s esteemed faculty, as well as independent study with Richard Davis and Chuck Israels. He also developed original music projects with fellow students Ben Lapidus, Matt Paddock, Evan Rapport, Dave Justh, Josh Fisher and many others. While at Oberlin, he played under orchestral conductors Robert Spano, Peter Jaffe, Tim Weiss, Michael Christie, and a special appearance by movie music icon John Williams.