Saxophonist Matt DeMerritt has arrived at last to his own recording. His career of almost 30 years has been based on his work as a sideman. Now, after spending all of 2019 working on songs and putting together a stellar ensemble, DeMerritt is ready to unleash a heady, yet engaging cache of songs. The recording, “Fool’s Journey,” was released in mid-September 2020.
The sound and style of “Fool’s Journey” by Matt DeMerritt
“Fool’s Journey” consists of 11 songs and is completed by the work of 13 musicians, including DeMerritt. The recording begins with a song that is less than one minute long, “Zero Intro.” The feel is a little moody and jazzy at the same time. Audiences are rapt, focusing on the intricate exchanges between the instrument groups. There is a rock edge to the approach that finds drums thundering ahead of the rest of the sounds. The saxophone edges in, and everything sounds like it has come from far away. Then, just as quickly, it is time for the next track.
Track No. 2 is “Wellspring.” The parts of the song can be described as part world music and part early 1960s jazz. The gentle syllable singing is accompanied by bouncing bass and percussion. When the soundscape shifts, the music sounds tense, but danceable, ala “West Side Story.” In its own way, the music on “Fool’s Journey” is exuberant and unexpected. That is part of the draw. Also, the musicians are talented. Their work helps to hold all of the seemingly unrelated parts together. The feel is artful.
A bit about Matt DeMerritt
DeMerritt’s journey toward becoming a professional saxophonist began when he was in the fourth grade in Denver, Colorado. There, as a public school student, DeMerritt learned to play the saxophone. By the time he was a sophomore in high school, he was already lead alto in the Colorado All State Jazz Band. He soon began playing with adult musicians. Still, despite his precocious talent, DeMerritt completed his college education by attending Lawrence Conservatory and William Paterson University.
In 1997, DeMerritt moved to Los Angeles at the suggestion of friends. He played on a variety of projects and met a number of people who are and were household names. DeMerritt played with Macy Gray and with The Jade Vincent Experiment– which was once described as “Mingus meets Portishead.” The group was considered influential, if not popular.
DeMerritt would go on to play on more than 70 projects, including works by Allen Stone, Andra Day, Ghostface Killa, Everlast, Nine Inch Nails and more.
DeMerritt’s approach to the saxophone seems to be that he never hems it in–he lets it go wherever he sees that it fits. The result is an eclectic style that fits with a number of genres. This debut creates anticipation for DeMerritt’s future work.