Matt Lemmler is a New Orleans-based jazz pianist. A professor, Steinway Artist, and musical director for The New Orleans Jazz Revival Band, Lemmler ventures on his own with his latest self-release, Love. Here, Paul McCartney-meets-Ray Charles on the recording as Lemmler shows an instinct for channeling emotion in the lyrics, supported by a comfy, melodic stride in his piano playing. His re-imagining of such pop tunes as Journey’s “Open Arms” and Billy Joel’s “She’s Got a Way” emphasizes Lemmler’s vocal depth and penchant for swing-inspired bantering on the piano.
Much of the inspiration for the recording stems from his love and passion for singing, complemented by the lyrical phrasing of his piano keys. “And So It Goes,” another Billy Joel tune, accentuates the balladry swagger of the bluesy piano motifs. Overtones of storytelling-style folk akin to Mick Jagger’s lyricism can be found in Lemmler’s voicing. His rendition of Lionel Richie’s “Truly” has a calypso strut in the piano keys, which give the tune an after-hours glow. Lemmler’s original track “When She Looks at Me (Live)” is a moving ballad set to silky windwoods performed by Rex Gregory.
Smooth and silky are recurring themes throughout the recording – traits which Lemmler honed while touring with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Phantom of the Opera. Lemmler has previously released acclaimed CDs with his NOLA Jazz Revival Band, including Portraits of Wonder, which is a tribute to the music of Stevie Wonder, and The Music of New Orleans, a tribute to his hometown. His follow-up release, UBUNTU, is a collection of “Lemmler-ized” visions of church hymns, American spirituals, and classic ’70s pop songs.
It has been his musical influences that affected Matt Lemmler to embark on the road to becoming a singer, songwriter, and musician. Finding his voice came over time, as Lemmler had to learn not to compare himself to those singers whom he idolized such as Billy Joel and Lionel Richie. Paving his own path has been a rewarding experience, and his latest recording resounds with pride for being able to make music the way he imagines it. A testament to his passion for music, the album is an exploration of his journey in life.