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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Hero's Journey'
Artist - Matt Von Roderick

For those not in the know, Matt Von Roderick (born Matthew Benjamin Roderick Shulman) is an American trumpeter, rapper, singer and recording artist. In 2003, he was named Jazz Artist of the Year by the Independent Music Awards and in 2007 Matt was listed as "Taking Jazz into the Future" by Downbeat Magazine.

Matt was born into a musical family in the small town of Lyndonville, Vermont. Matt's father, Alvin Shulman, is a violinist and first generation American born in New York City, of Russian and Polish descent. Matt's mother, born Elizabeth von Stackelberg in Munich, Germany, is of German, Irish and British descent. She emigrated to America after World War II, and is a piano teacher. Matt is Jewish, and has cited his Bar Mitzvah as being a formative musical experience.

In 2007, Matt released his first commercial album, So It Goes, under the name Matt Shulman, through the independent label Jaggo records. In 2009, Matt changed his professional name to Matt Von Roderick and moved from New York City to Los Angeles where he began developing a brand new sound for his second album; a mixture of his jazz roots with modern rock and electronic textures and production.

In 2012 Matt released a "pop mix" and video of his single 'Let The Trumpet Talk', to favorable coverage, and a year later launched a new "official mix" of 'Let The Trumpet Talk', described as "darker and more dangerous."

And therein is what has taken me by surprise here, for listening to Matt's new album, Hero's Journey, I was immediately taken aback (in a good way) by what I was hearing. I didn't prep, I didn't listen to internet samples, I simply put the CD in the player, hit play, and sat back to review it. I do most my CD reviews in that manner, so that I'm not swayed - good, bad or ugly - by internet gossip and such and this time, well, wow, this trumpeter has blown my freakin' mind apart with his work!

Indeed, upon first encountering Hero's Journey, it immediately feels that it is a melting pot for all musical elements - and not just those within the jazz and R&B genres, trust me. Complete with odes towards those, but so many others such as pop, hip-hop, trip-hop, blues, electro, and chock full of retro jazz elements, Hero's Journey is brought together by Matt's ability to rap the lyrics and chords lovingly, and perfectly together.

1. 'Seize the Night'
2. 'A Girl, Like That'
3. 'All For You'
4. 'Baby Got Jazz'
5. 'Believe'
6. 'Shine'
7. 'Let the Trumpet Talk'
8. 'Undeniable'
9. 'Cash Money'
10. 'Life Is Fun'
11. 'Coexistence'
12. 'What a Wonderful World'

This brand new studio album showcases such a mish-mash of musical greatness that it's truly so hard to know where to begin to praise it. Personally, I think my biggest "wow" moment was just four tracks in on the rap electro funk jazz of 'Baby Got Jazz,' a track that blows most everything musical (from other artists) out of the water completely! The track that follows, the fairy tale wonderment of 'Believe,' where simply believing in things for them to come true, is yet another original stunner.

Truly, HONESTLY, this jazz album is unlike anything I've ever, EVER heard before, especially from a trumpeter! From the uplifting love song 'Shine' to the old school retro club feel of 'Undeniable,' to the frenetic trance-like musical state of 'Cash Money' to the balladeering of 'Life Is Fun,' Hero's Journey is a storytelling album of the highest order.

The fact that Hero's Journey is able to evoke so many styles and atmospheric contours, all while maintaining a coherent artistic sense, is a testament to the man behind the horn ... and the mic. Matt, more so than many of his jazz contemporaries, understands the importance of the artistic persona to the creator's work, which is why he ends this journey with a completely transformed instrumental rendition of Louis Armstrong's 'What A Wonderful World.'