Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project
Dec 14, 2016
Matt Yaple is musician and composer, media maker and founder of @exuberance, a beautiful, new, local jazz salon. Since the summer 2016, Yaple has been presenting small, but powerful musical situations in his salon.
PJP: Tell us a little about yourself.
Matt Yaple: I grew up in a little central Illinois town surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans as far as you could see. Not much going on culturally. Except in August, my dad would take me to the state fair where over the years I got to see Louis Armstrong, Ella, Jimmy Rushing, Count Basie, Duke Ellington (many times), Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, the Mills Brothers, Pete Fountain and Al Hirt, and many more. When I was 17, he took me to a midnight show in Chicago featuring the Miles Davis Quintet. That totally blew my mind.
I came to Philly in 1974 with a fellowship to the MFA film program at Temple. WRTI was something back then. First, the era of The Freedom Sounds curated by Russ Musto, Buddy Korn and Peter Blakie. The next phase—The Point—ushered in some Muslim brothers and sisters directed by Samir Ali Sadiq. I fed on the music from the station back then. There was a lot of reverence going on. I worked on a still-unreleased concert documentary on Betty Carter. Betty had a profound influence on me.
I took some jobs and ended up working for the American Law Institute for 20-some years doing media production. Still, all the time from when I was a teen, I was writing tunes. I did some choir directing, some solo piano, gigged a while with the heavenly Rosella Clemmons Washington. But mainly I kept music in the background.
PJP: Who/what is Exuberance?
Yaple: When I retired, I started a band called Exuberance to explore my book of tunes. We played like 10 gigs at Chris’ Jazz Cafe and World Cafe Live and I lost money each time. I was hiring the best musicians and paying them. I had nowhere to rehearse the band. Fast-forward to today: I dropped the band, but I have an amazing place to play. I hope to get my own thing together in the new year. Meanwhile, I have a place where great musicians, great music and great audiences are coming together. It’s pure joy. Exuberance, in other words.
It started out as the name of a tune I wrote. Then, a book of tunes. Then, the band I led for a minute. And now it’s a place—my home, but also a place for house concerts. I didn’t start out with a clear idea for this, but since July we have been hosting monthly jazz salons with truly incredible programs—Sumi Tonooka Trio, Mike Cemprola’s Contraband, Arturo Stable Trio, Victor Provost Quartet, Elio Villafranca & Abdou Mboup, Orrin Evans & Josh Lawrence. Truly top shelf programs. The deal here is that there is minimal amplification and no talking, texting or anything other than listening when the music is happening. The audiences here have been wonderful.
PJP: If folks want to find out more about Exuberance how might they do that?
PJP: When, where, and what is "resolution"?
Yaple: "resolution" is a New Year's Day, jazz piano benefit for Jazz Bridge featuring 12 notable Philadelphia pianists. It kicks off at 3pm, at my home in the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. My space is also an monthly venue for acoustic jazz programs called @exuberance.
PJP: Why did you decide to do this; why is it important?
Yaple: I want people to know about our invitation-only jazz salons which provide a dignified environment for seriously great artists that I happen to know and love. The humanitarian mission of Jazz Bridge to aid musicians and their families is inarguably important. Our piano and the room’s acoustics are great. The chance to hear this diverse group of artists playing solo all in one sitting sounds incredible—I would pay for that! Finally, our country, our world seems more fractious than ever, and this event is about striking chords of "resolution" —figuratively and literally. What’s not to like about this project? All those things fit together.
PJP: Who will be performing and why should jazz fans come out?
Yaple: The lineup is diverse in race, gender and age. And fame I suppose. It’s admirable and exciting that all 12 agreed to pull together on this project for little money to support the work of Jazz Bridge. They all deserve equal credit for this regardless of the size of their stars: Joseph Block, Tim Brey, Lucas Brown, Uri Caine, Bob Cohen, Aaron Graves, Micah Graves, Patricia Haddad, Tom Lawton, Luke Carlos O’Reilly, Sumi Tonooka, Eric Wortham II—that’s 12, right? An amazing opportunity.
PJP: If folks want to find out more about the benefit on New Year’s Day, who should they contact?
Yaple: Well, first they should know that it’s $150 a pop—that’s the suggested donation. We’ve already received over a dozen donations gifted to students from Camden Creative Arts and Clef Club jazz programs. So, you can donate for you, or for a deserving student. Go to our website for the "resolution" @exuberance event. Or you can go directly to the payment page on the Jazz Bridge site . It should be an incredible event.
Photos: Matt Yaple and Exuberance