rick-reviews-photo-1“VanMatre’s artistry was seamless, technically superb and musically inventive…His musicianship was so effortless, it was hard to know whether he was improvising or playing a riff written out by the composer.” – Cincinnati Enquirer (Frank Proto: Concerto No. 2 for Saxophone and Orchestra with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra)

“VanMatre’s art is without comparison; his technique exact, yet smooth, his expression poignant and personal…and that VanMatre cadenza at the end, what a triumphant finish.” – Chicago Star (John Williams concerto performance with Illinois Philharmonic)

“VanMatre is simply an outstanding and awe-inspiring improviser and jazz composer…This is, in short, an absolutely stunning album and an excellent example of…superb jazz…I urge you to pick this one up; you won’t be disappointed.” – Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare (Lines Above, Summit Records)

“…the hero of the evening [concert in Jerusalem]…a most beautiful, dramatic composition [April Regenerations] especially written for the 3000th  anniversary of Jerusalem…a stirring jazz recital in Ein Kerem…[his composition] Ashes, inspired by his visit to Auschwitz [shows] the dramatic power of expression.” – Slowo (Warsaw, Poland)

“VanMatre filled the assignment with complete assurance and flair, delivering a bravura performance that employed both a soprano and a tenor saxophone. Moving through passages of fiendish difficulty that called for extreme agility articulated to perfection, VanMatre demonstrated complete mastery of his two instruments without once faltering or letting go of the intensity that hallmarked his playing.” – Rafael’s Music Notes, All About the Arts (Concerto for Saxophone by Kim Pensyl with CCM Wind Symphony)

“VanMatre plays with great sensitivity…” – American Record Guide (The Profanation, Frank Proto Trio – DVD)

“…sax great…VanMatre, who can get the heart and soul out of a sax…wove lines with great artistry throughout…” – Music in Cincinnati (Frank Proto: Concerto No. 2 for Saxophone and Orchestra with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra)

“…rousing solo work by alto saxophonist Rick VanMatre…” – Louisville Courier-Journal (Duke Ellington Orchestra, Mercer Ellington, director)

“Immediately apparent is the easy collegiality, the seamless passing of solo from player to player, and the seemingly telepathic support of the improvisation. This is a remarkably tight ensemble…especially with the rather harmonically and rhythmically advanced character of the riffs…The [engineering] is state of the art. Jazz aficionados should not hesitate. Classical devotees who appreciate fine musicianship in other genres will almost surely find much to enjoy in this fine release, as well.” – Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare (Lines Above, Summit Records)

“…great big band playing by the musicians of the [Cincinnati] Pops Orchestra, which included spectacular cadenzas by saxophonist Rick VanMatre.” – Cincinnati Business Courier

“Another highlight is saxophonist Rick VanMatre…[with] his full tone and exceptional improvisational skills” – All About Jazz (Melodious Monk, Kim Pensyl/Phil DeGreg Ensemble, Summit Records)

“…Rick VanMatre’s artful flute solo on ‘La Ofrenda’ …successfully interwoven with traditional Latin dance music.” – All About Jazz (Donde Estas?, Latin X-posure, J Curve Sabroso)

“One of the evening’s stars was tenor sax Rick VanMatre, …who showed versatility whether improvising alone or echoing [Ann Hampton] Callaway’s vocal improvisations.” – Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati Pops Orchestra)

“Reed titan Rick VanMatre…” – Midwest Jazz

AppleMark“…’Take the A Train’ made an ideal tempo for Rick VanMatre to make some amazing dips and turns on his saxophone…[He] also soared on… sax and clarinet, as in Benny Goodman’s ‘Stompin at the Savoy’ and ‘Sing Sing Sing.’” – Cincinnati Enquirer

“Please fill my stocking with…more happenings, like the multimedia event Rick VanMatre put on early this month at CCM” – Jackie Demaline, Cincinnati Enquirer

“The inclusion of saxophone soloist Rick VanMatre turned out to be musically perfect…[he] showed off his jazz skills to the max…” – Chicago Star

“One of the highlights [of the Cincinnati Pops concert] was the alto sax of Rick VanMatre…” – Cincinnati Enquirer

“Rick VanMatre, in particular, should be singled out for his lovely flute work on … Gillespie’s ‘Con Alma’ …” – All About Jazz (Salutaris Plates CD, Marc Fields Ensemble)

“…a phenomenal soprano sax solo by Rick VanMatre.” – Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati Pops Orchestra)

“… one of the country’s leading university-level ensembles… [CCM] boasts one of the country’s – and the world’s – most notable Jazz Studies programs…The first three [tunes on Serenade in Blue] alone are enough to make the album a necessary part of any big-band enthusiast’s library.” – Cadence, (Serenade in Blue CD, Sea Breeze Records)

“… tightly arranged music…played with vim and vigor…One of the attributes which sets this group apart from other college big bands is their use of dynamics which adds to the excitement…This is exuberant music at its modern best.” – All About Jazz (Serenade in Blue CD, Sea Breeze Records)

“…features not only exciting and expertly played arrangements mostly from the students themselves, but also an array of remarkably mature soloists who would hold their own in any professional organization.” – Jazz Journal, England (Serenade in Blue CD, Sea Breeze Records)

“ [one of the] Top Campus CDs of 2001.” – Herb Wong, Jazz Education Journal (Serenade in Blue CD, Sea Breeze Records)

“Things couldn’t be much better at [CCM]…The CCM band compares quite favorably with many professional ensembles…Kudos to director Rick VanMatre and his staff.” – Jazz News (Lady Bird CD, Sea Breeze Records)

“The recording quality and mix are exemplary, and the ensemble performs at a professional level on every number…Soloists, too, are first-class…[and] a purposeful rhythm section that never slackens or stumbles…I suppose it’s not too early to begin thinking about next year’s Top 10 list…” – Cadence, (Lady Bird CD, Sea Breeze Records)

“It reeks of class, not a cliché in sight…a superb project.” – (Lady Bird CD, Sea Breeze Records)

“…recorded evidence of the group’s exceptional prowess…The big-band selections [are] performed with conspicuous elegance and precision…” – Jazz News (Carnival of Life CD, CCM Jazz Ensemble)

“…an evening that would have made [Woody Herman] proud.” – The Herds, Newsletter of the Woody Herman Society (CCM Jazz Ensemble in concert, “A tribute to Woody Herman”)