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Jazz guitarist goes eclectic at Bohemian Caverns this weekend

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

Matthew Stevens, one of the fastest rising jazz guitarists on the touring scene these days, has been preparing for his Bohemian Caverns gig Friday and Saturday night. He and his quartet will entertain audiences with cover tunes from their recent collaboration album, "Next Collective," as well as new material he has written for his soon-to-be-released album on the Concord label.

"Our arrangements on 'Next Collective' were all post-'90s popular [style] and everybody arranged a song or two," said Stevens, who recorded the album with such contemporary luminaries as Christian Scott, Ben Williams and Logan Richardson. "The record has been doing very well and we had great fun making it."

Having visited D.C. many times in his professional career, he noted that a few of the covers his quartet will play will be a song each by David Bowie, Dido and Pearl Jam.

But Stevens, a native of Toronto, Canada, who received his degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, plans to introduce his own compositions into the mix, noting, "I had a lot of pretty serious and eclectic influences -- I grew up listening to as much Jimmy Hendrix as I did Miles Davis and John Coltrane [and] in my original music, I just try to write whatever influence is at the front of my mind or whatever combination of things I'm hearing.

Onstage
Matthew Stevens
» Where: Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW
» When: 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
» Info: $23; 202-299-0800; bohemiancaverns.com

"Composing is a great way to assert your identity as a musician ... that's what I try to do with this material [and] it really varies in range and influence, but ultimately, I hope it just sounds like me."

Over the course of his professional career, Stevens has toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, South America and South Africa. He is also a familiar face at national and international jazz festivals, including Montreux, Newport, Montreal and Monterey.

Accompanying Stevens' electric guitar playing is Kris Funn on Bass, Luis Perdomo at the piano and Zach Danziger on drums.

Although his music is eclectic and improvisational, Stevens wants audiences to know that a prerequisite understanding of the entire canon of jazz music is absolutely not necessary to sit back and enjoy his music.

"If you're someone that doesn't necessarily like going to jazz concerts [because] you find them too abstract or difficult to connect with, give us a try and I think you'll be happily surprised," he said.

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