Matt has been working since he was six-years old. He started a career in his dad’s packaging plant, where by the age of 16, he was managing the facility. During those years, his musical abilities were not ignored, though. Mom and dad sent young Dusk to singing lessons with St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto when he was seven. He sang for an hour a day, everyday at rehearsals for a Boy’s Choir that traveled the world every month. It was a magical time for the young singer.
At about 16 or 17, Matt was introduced to the sounds of the Big Bands. Matt says, "It was music to my ears ..love at first sight." About the same time, he discovered karaoke while attending an all-boy Catholic school. The boy’s choir joined up with the neighboring all-girl’s school singers to perform in a Variety Show. From there, Matt says, "Offers for weddings and parties came in, so I put a band together and hustled for gigs." He began making great money performing 20 to 25 gigs a month.
As popular as Matt was to his local following, no one in the music business believed in the commercialism of jazz at that time. Despite that, Matt made a couple of records and shopped them around to publicists who turned him away. He wouldn’t be defeated, though, and finally found one who was more than willing to believe in his ability to become a star. So it was onto bigger and better paying gigs for Mr. Matt Dusk!
Matt credits Norah Jones for beginning the commercial success and renaissance of the Jazz Vocal genre. He and Michael Buble were coming through that same door at about the same time. As a matter of fact, Matt’s first CD was to be released months before Buble’s, but he was signed to work on the reality TV program, "The Casino", and the label decided to delay the release and debut it in conjunction with the show. Matt says, "This was great for the people, but bad for critics" who seemed to feel that Dusk was climbing the ladder of success on the back of Hollywood - or Vegas, in this case. It’s my opinion that the career of Harry Connick, Jr. (with whom Dusk shares a publicist) wasn’t harmed by the soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally, or by his appearance in the movie Memphis Belle--and we all know what’s happened to Harry, right?
Now touring to promote his new album, Back in Town, Matt was about to do a show in Boston when I caught up with him to rave about the tracks. I told him I was literally smiling while listening to his disk, not just because it makes me warm and fuzzy to hear songs my parents familiarized me with growing up, but because Matt defines them differently than anyone known for doing this music currently. The nuances he has lent to the classic pop standards are unique and make me feel really, really good. They bring a smile to my face at every listen. So I asked if these Dusk-isms are different live. Matt said, "Performing live each time is different. Audiences are in different moods that make me attack a certain lyric a certain way." But it’s not just his phrasing that’s unique. It’s his ability to twist the written melody without breaking it or making it a different song altogether. To make a point about this, Matt makes a profound statement to me at this point in our conversation, saying, "You can bootleg a CD, you can bootleg a song, but you can’t bootleg an experience."
His tracks are beautiful, and lush pop productions recorded with a Big Band orchestra, although live he is known to travel with anything from a trio to a full stage of musicians beside him. The arrangements are fresh and new but they are nostalgic at the same time. Back in Town includes originals like the title track that is a testament to the swing era sound. Other tracks include the Latin-tinged "More", and incredible remakes of My Fair Lady classics "Get Me to the Church on Time" and "On the Street Where You Live," arranged by the infamous Sammy Nestico, who wrote and arranged for the Count Basie Orchestra.
So if you happen to be in a town near Dusk, see him live, but in the meantime, pick up a copy of Back in Town and you will smile like I did. And ladies? Matt is not only a super singer, he is also single, sexy and gorgeous, which makes the smiling for all the right reasons.
Matt Dusk’s new release is on Decca Records, available at MattDusk.com and music stores everywhere.