"Controlled passion." Those words were used by W. Royal Stokes of Jazz Times to describe the instrumental style of jazz trombonist Matt Haviland, known for his vibrant tone and adventurous melodic improvisations. Since arriving in New York in 1983, Matt has been in demand as a performer and featured soloist with some of the top groups in jazz, including the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Maria Schneider, Mingus Big Band, Slide Hampton's World of Trombones, and Steven Bernstein's MTO. Other credits include a broad range of freelance work: Deodato, Blood Sweat & Tears, Manny Oquendo & Libre, and Broadway (Swing, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Color Purple).
Haviland also has a solid reputation as a gifted composer and arranger. His writing can be heard on recordings by the Harper Brothers, Charli Persip, Diane Moser's Composers Big Band, and his debut recording Beyond Good & Evil (Connotation Records). He has been awarded an NEA composition grant, participated in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop under Bob Brookmeyer, composed an extended work for big band plus chamber orchestra, and written charts for the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, saxophonist Vincent Herring, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, and a range of other projects.
Born June 17, 1961, in Des Moines, Iowa, Haviland was raised in Summit, NJ, with three older siblings. Strong and lasting influences include the humanist and pacifist Quaker values of his family and a deep appreciation for an artist's life and work-as demonstrated by both grandmothers in the visual arts. After starting out on baritone horn, Matt picked up the trombone in middle school to join the jazz band. From then on, he focused on the slide horn and his new-found passion for jazz. At the age of 15, he received as a gift his first jazz trombone recording, The Golden Horn of Jack Teagarden, beginning of a lifelong interest in the man's life and music. Other recordings providing early influence included those by Jimmy Knepper, Count Basie, Al Grey, and the peerless J.J. Johnson.
In 1979, Haviland attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, studying jazz composition and arranging as well as performance. Teachers included Herb Pomeroy, Ken Pullig, and Phil Wilson-the latter providing much encouragement and recommendations for playing and writing work. Berklee attracted a vast pool of talented young jazz artists, leading to an inspiring several years and lasting musical relationships.
Immediately upon graduating, Haviland moved to New York. Diving into the jazz scene, he grew exponentially as a player and began building an impressive resume, including U.S. and international tours. In 1992, Matt moved north of the city to Nyack, New York, where he currently resides with his wife, Lynn, and son, Graham. A passionate advocate for the Hudson Valley and its tradition in the arts, Haviland is very active in bringing jazz to the area. Most recently, he helped launch the jazz program at Riverspace, a community-based arts consortium and performance space in Nyack.
Matt continues to grow as a player and writer, while exploring a means for personal expression: "Musicality is my operating principle," Haviland states. "While technique is important in both playing and writing, ultimately I want the melodies, improvisations, and interaction to carry the day. Two of my favorite players, J.J. and Teagarden, are great role models for accomplishing that on trombone. Each stands out just as much for his completely musical ideas as for the near-perfect execution of his concept. That kind of achievement really inspires me."