Matthew Stevens


Stevens plays guitar with tight clutch, improvising in truncated melodies and tense, frequently beautiful harmonies that always tilt toward a payoff.”
— New York Times

” Stevens‘ complex intellectual jazz improvisations occur within loud, belligerent, visceral raunch. The juxtaposition of two attitudes toward art is exciting.”

— Jazz Times

      Born into a musical family, Stevens began studying piano at age 7, and switched to the guitar at age 11. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2004, Stevens began to show up everywhere, as an essential contributor to new work by strong artists including Christian Scott, Terri Lyne Carrington, Harvey Mason, ERIMAJ, Sean Jones, Walter Smith III, Linda Oh, NEXT Collective and, notably, Esperanza Spalding, in whose Emily’s D+Evolution project Stevens was key. Stevens then played on, composed for, and was an additional producer on Spalding’s innovative project, Exposure.

In 2016 DownBeat Magazine included Stevens in their 25 For the Future issue and have placed him in their Annual Critics Poll Rising Star Guitar Category for the past two years. His performances have been consistently lauded in Billboard, DownBeat Magazine, The Fader, The Guardian, Guitar Player Magazine, Jazz Times, Mojo, NPR, The New York Times, Pitchfork, PopMatters, Stereogum, Vice Noisey, and more.

In 2015 he released his debut album, Woodwork, as a bandleader under Whirlwind Recordings/ Crystal Math. Woodwork received enthusiastic reviews from DownBeat Magazine, The Irish Times, Jay Z’s Life and Times, Jazz Times Magazine, Jazz Wise Magazine, The Kansas City Star, The Ottawa Citizen, and more. LA Weekly described Woodwork as “an amalgamation of modern jazz and neo-fusion elements which showcase…sonic versatility and savvy producing chops.” Woodwork’s iTunes feature review praises Stevens’s “immense melodic gifts and deceptively intricate playing.”

In 2017, Stevens released Preverbal under Ropeadope/Crystal Math. Mojo praised Stevens’s “singular style [that] dissolves the demarcation lines between jazz, rock, and ambient music.” Pitchfork calls the music “honest and soulful” and NPR reported that Preverbal is “music [that] advances the ideals of modern jazz.”

Stevens currently resides in Harlem, New York City.