Saxophonist Matthew Shilling was born in the mile high city of Denver, Colorado. At a young age he developed a deep love and understanding for nature, while camping every weekend in the rugged Rocky Mountains.
A love of music also developed early, encouraged with piano lessons at age ten. Upon entering middle school, Matthew chose the saxophone. As a young player, he was noted for his big, warm sound. “In college, Nancy Wilson was a huge influence on my sound. I listened to that album Nancy and Cannonball and copied her voice.”
During college Shilling ended up in Europe, spending almost eight years in Spain. “In Barcelona I was exposed to some serious music that wasn’t jazz. These sounds from Flamenco, North African music, Brazilian music, Indian music, Central African music, etc. heavily influenced my playing. Barcelona was one of those places where you found yourself with people from all over the world, and people who were willing to share and learn; a cultural exchange.” Shilling is grateful to have had the opportunity to travel and play all over the world; throughout Europe, reaching as far as St Petersburg and Bucharest; to India, playing with local master tabla and bansuri players; to Argentina, playing concerts with guitarist Gustavo Garcia and local superstars from the Buenos Aires group Aca Seca; to Japan, playing with vocalist Kyoko Yokomae, and subsequently producing and playing on Yokomae’s third album and featuring American artists under his independent Boqueria Records label. Deciding to return to the United States to live, Shilling found himself none other than in New Orleans. “I fell in love with this city, with it’s old European feel mixed with a taste of the Caribbean, plus something wholly American and unique to only here.” Shilling has since played with a plethora of important musicians, such as Delfeayo Marsalis, Kirk Joseph, Russel Batiste, Seguenon Kone, to name but just a few, and now with Bill Summers. “I am always drawn to the sounds of percussion. Having played Brazilian music with Cumbuca and in an African-Jazz fusion ensemble led by bassist Childo Thomas while in Barcelona, as well as with tabla master Nirmal Goswami in India, it was only natural that I would team up with cuban percussionist Alexei Martí in New Orleans, and subsequently meet Bill Summers.” Shilling also leads his own groups, including the World Jazz Project, a mix of West African percussion and original jazz funk sounds, and the ReGeneration Brass Band of New Orleans. Shilling is currently completing a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans under scholarship.