Matt Sazima is a jazz pianist, composer, and educator from Sacramento, CA. At age 9, Matt started taking piano lessons, and by the next year had started learning jazz piano under the tutelage of Dennis Kalfas, a student of Oscar Peterson. For the next several years, he played in Granite Bay High School’s marching band, jazz band, and concert band. He also studied vibraphone and piano at the Stanford Jazz Workshop for several years.
He received his B.M. in improvised music from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. While there, Sazima received a downbeat award for his vocal jazz arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s Skylark. He was also a part of Willamette University’s vocal jazz group, the Willamette Singers, when they received a downbeat award for best undergraduate large vocal group in 2014 and 2015. In March of 2014, Matt traveled to Nepal to serve as a visiting educator at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory.
Matt received his M.F.A. in Jazz Keyboard from California Institute of the Arts in 2016, where he studied under David Roitstein, Joe Labarbera, and Larry Koonse. Since graduating, he has been recognized as 2016 Ravinia Steans Music Institute Fellow, and has been given a SONIC award for new music by the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers at their 2017 symposium.
Matt has recorded his music in some of the finest studios in the nation, such as Capitol Records in Los Angeles and Studio X in Seattle. He has also performed in various places around the country, including the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas; Ivories Jazz Lounge in Portland, Oregon; the Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Oregon; Roy O. Disney Hall in Santa Clarita, California; and the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, California.
Matt’s Compositions have also been performed by Chuck Owen’s Jazz Surge, Willamette’s Chamber Choir, The Willamette Singers, Portland’s fEARnoMUSIC String Quartet, Baroque music quartet Red Priest, and his modern jazz quintet Jazz Frat.
Get to Know Matt
What is your favorite part of teaching?
Seeing an important concept “click” for my student!
If you could have a super power, what would it be? Why?
If I watched a pot, it would instantly boil.
If you could master one skill you don’t have right now, what would it be?
Probably cooking, but maybe gymnastics?