The Canadian crooner opens up about his tour, his young start in music, and why he connects with Jazz music.
MJCC: Thanks for speaking with us, Matt! Moose Jaw is enthusiastic about having you and your Sinatra show at the Mae Wilson Theatre! How has the tour been so far? Any highlights?
MD: Thanks for having me! After 2 years of not being able to perform in front of a live audience, it feels great to be able to share the stage with my talented band and sing the music that unites people across generations. The highlight for me is always being in a room full of people, brought together by their love of great music, and to share in that common nostalgia and good feelings. The most important part of the show is the audience!
MJCC: On this tour you're singing the Sinatra songbook, obviously in connection with your two Sinatra albums. Can you share a bit about your love for Sinatra? Has your relationship with his music grown or changed as you've spent more and more time with it?
MD: As a teen, I looked up to Sinatra and his contemporaries as these cool guys, dressed to the nines, drinking and having fun on stage. I wanted to be like them! When Frank sang songs of love and heartbreak, I felt like I could related and it made him seem like a regular guy. Frank sang for everyone: men, women, young and old. When he sang a text, he connected with the whole audience. He recorded 1200 songs creating an incredible encyclopedia.
For me, it was his style and swagger, his personality, and his natural way of singing that made him unique. Many try to copy his phrasing without understanding what is behind it. Frank was a perfectionist and despite his reputation for recording in one take, if he was not satisfied, the song was not recorded. All his life he studied music as his life's work.
As I get older, with all the life experience that comes with that, his songs do take on a new meaning in some respect.
MJCC: If you were to "blue sky" for a minute, are there other artists whose music you'd enjoy devoting an album and tour to?
MD: I've been very lucky to spend time with Tony Bennett over the years. Not only is he a living legend, but his catalog has some tunes unique to him. Seems fitting to continue carrying the torch with songs of his.
MJCC: Where did your love for music first start showing itself? What were your first forays into performing?
MD: I started singing at the ripe age of 7 after being accepted into St. Michael's Choir School, where we sang mostly opera and classical repertoire. Eventually though, I was pulled in by the swingin' Jazz of legends like Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, and Sarah Vaughan and I shifted my focus to the intoxicating world of Jazz music.
I was immediately attracted to this golden age, bygone era. I'd go to these Jazz clubs in the 90's and was struck by the roomfuls of people drinking, having fun, and singing along to timeless Jazz standards that have now become so deeply embedded into popular culture.
MJCC: You also studied under the late, great Canadian jazz icon Oscar Peterson! What were some of the most formative and valuable lessons and experiences that you gained with him?
MD: So when I was 19, I won the Canadian National Exhibition Rising Star Talent Competition and got into the Jazz program at York University, thinking "I'm so good" and on the first day of class, my teacher pulled me aside and said "Kid, you've got a great voice, but you can't sing Jazz worth crap! We're going to teach you how to do that." It was a real wake up call!
The opportunity to hang out with Oscar Peterson in master classes and hearing him tell stories was invaluable.
MJCC: Thank you so much for your time, Matt! We're looking forward to your show and we'll see you at the Mae Wilson on Nov 21st!
MD: I can't wait!