Winner of the title 'Seattle's best Guitarist' in the Yamaha sponsored Seattle Guitarstars contest Featured on BET television networks Jazz Discoveries Show 'A virtuoso deserving star status.' Charles Cross The Rocket 'My jaw literally dropped in appreciation of his incredible skill.' Rhonda Dicksion New Times 'In a constellation of musical stars Matt Horton is a supernova.' Mark Crawford Nevada State Journal Heritage Music Review Matthew Horton A Guitarist For All Seasons By Doug Bright Even among the many talented musicians that populate Seattle's acoustic music scene, Matthew Horton is a stand-out. While many choose to specialize, Horton is a master of many styles who has played the kind of venues most locals only dream about. Yet there is nothing of the arrogant self-proclaimed superstar in Horton's unassuming manner. A transplant to this rich Northwest musical environment, he's been assiduously honing his act, his technique, and his portfolio of original compositions in the region's 'unplugged' music spots, garnering the respect of fellow musicians, media people and consumers alike. A native of Nevada, Horton got an early musical start in a direction very different from most guitarists of his age. 'When I was 10 my mom got me Kenny Burrel's 'JAZZ GUITAR FORMS,' he recalls. 'My dad played some piano, and my folks got me a guitar and lessons with this older jazz player in Reno, and I learned a lot of pop instrumentals.' When I initially got into classical, I saw Carlos Montoya. I was about 14, and I was really amazed that he could do all that with one guitar. It was like juggling except it was musical. I got sucked right into it' By the time he entered high school, Matthew Horton had also gleaned inspiration from a different quarter. 'A friend of mine gave me the soundtrack album to ZABRISKIE POINT which had a collection of Jerry Garcia solos, Pink Floyd, and there was John Fahey in the middle,' he recalls. 'It was the only tune I liked on the album. Then in '72 another friend turned me onto Leo Kottke, and vocalist Leon Thomas, I was blown away the first time I heard them, I knew I wanted to be like them and make what for me was great music.' For the next two years Matthew Horton worked hard on his guitar technique, and when opportunity knocked, he was waiting at the door. 'I had learned all these Kottke tunes,' he explains,'and I was already doing my own stuff- overdrive kind of stuff where there's lots going on. Through a tape that I made, I got a gig opening for Maria Muldaur in '75. That was a lot of fun- I got to play in front of a lot of people. I thought I had made it, but I hadn't. The guitar players I admired at the time were classical players like John Williams and Julian Bream, and I thought, 'I gotta learn some of that stuff.' I just refocused for about three years and really studied hard.' When Horton was ready to pursue a musical career again, he had aquired a thorough grounding in classical guitar and Brazilian jazz. By the time he moved to Seattle in 1980, he had chalked up an impressive resume of gigs on the Nevada lounge circuit. 'I did most of them,' he says. 'MGM Grand, Harrah's, Sahara Tahoe, The Hyatt. That's mostly how I've made my living- digging musical ditches. Doing anything from country to 'sophisticated, elegant Brazilian lounge jazz.' After breaking my arm, I couldn't play for a while, and that gave me time to think about moving up north. After healing a bit I did a tough and noisy solo casino gig for four months playing six hour sets six nights a week all that summer, then I came up in September.' Once in Seattle, Horton quickly found his niche in the city's vibrant acoustic music scene. Through contacts with Victory Music founder Chris Lunn and guitarists Klaus Lendzian and Tracy Moore, he started landing local gigs. For a while he hooked up with agent Harry Madoulet who supplied him with great hotel gigs but also sent him to the remote outposts of northern Canada. 'I paid a lot of dues.' he says. His Northwest career hit a milestone when, in 1985, he was selected to appear on KEZX radio's second album project. He also spent some time in a folk-jazz fusion group called Space with saxophonist Richard Warner. 'It was an East-West kind of thing with tablas,'he explains. Then, back into the lounge thing into the nineties Horton spent four years, four nights a week at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue playing a mix of Latin jazz and classical. And in '95 he won the Yamaha sponsored search for 'Seattle's best guitarist.' competition under the name Rattlesnake. Since then he has been emphasizing his solo career and gaining new fans all the time. After hearing him in a concert atmosphere such as the one provided by Seattle's Phinney Neighborhood Center last month, one can easily understand why. Matthew Horton is a guitarist of amazing range. When he's playing a nylon strung instrument, his repertoire runs the gamut from intimate Brazillian jazz and jazz waltzes to blues flavored fingerpicking in the tradition of Fahey and Kottke to the European classical realm. 'It's time for some more Bach,' he announces matter-of-factly after John Fahey's 'Last Steam Engine Blues.' 'Malaguena' is delivered with sensitive dynamic variation and breathtaking dexterity. Horton is also a virtuoso of the twelve-string guitar, ranging from competent, expressive slide blues to Bach's 'Jesu, Joy', which appears on his new CD release. The albums title track, 'Emerald Bay Diamonds', is a lyrical original piece decorated with srategically placed guitar harmonics. Named for a land mark of his native Lake Tahoe, it's one of his most compelling works. Horton's richly modulated voice, which glides effortlessly between baritone and tenor, is at it's best on jazz waltzes like Kenny Rankin's charming 'Haven't We Met,' and Jobim's 'So Danco Samba.' The best of the fusion pieces of this album is Horton's 'Summer Solstice 2,' which features the light, warm soprano saxophone of Richard Warner. Aside from this, the album's real beauty lies in Horton's classical rendition's and his gentle, expressive guitar meditations on nature themes. The spirit of Matthew Horton's music is best captured in the benediction that follows a long list of 'special thanks' credits in the albums liner notes: 'And to every one that encouraged me to keep playing music, may you all continuously hover lightly above the ground.' Reprinted by permission from Heritage Music Review The CD mentioned is Emerald Bay Diamonds #JR2001.
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