The location for these melodious gatherings is a wonderful little venue in Phuket town on Chanacharoen Road. Unassuming and charming, as all great and welcoming hang-outs should be.
The owners of the club, both of which are musical talents to behold, are Jeffrey Sevilla and Kae Mongkronkaew.
I went along for the notorious Wednesday night Jazz Jam (July 25) to speak with Jeffrey about his passion for the art of Jazz, and inspiration with Kae to create a focal point for its practice.
Music Matter has a thriving underground reputation, why is the Wednesday night ‘Jazz Jam’ so popular?
“It’s a place to learn to play jazz that’s open to all that want to learn. You can join the house musicians and improvise together. Jazz is a feeling, an open music. It’s a never-ending idea that goes on and on.”
“The venue plays a wide variety of styles including be bop, swing, latin, free jazz and blues.”
How did Music Matter start out?
“I came to Phuket from the Philippines as a professional musician in 1998. After playing covers at various hotels my jazz interests were inspired by a colleague and bass player called Romeo. I learnt a wide jazz repertoire. Then I met Kae, and we initially opened an ice cream shop in Phuket town. All of my friends used to come round to jam, and soon this interest took over from the ices. Music Matter was born. It was the right place and the right time.”
How much influence came from your musical background in the Philippines?
"We have a strong connection with Spanish music and public performance through serenades. It’s already in our tradition. I was also strongly influenced by American Jazz. I used to tune in to the American Forces radio.”
Do you have a favourite live jazz performance?
“The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, who played in Phuket in 2007. It was the level of musicianship on stage. The tight communication between all the musicians, and yet the understanding and connection between the players and the audience was so open and incredible.”
And as I wrapped up the interview around 10pm, the jazz musicians and their aficionados were just beginning to arrive. Within minutes the space was alive with flamboyant characters and cool notes. The players take turns jamming on the small stage, moving between styles and instruments as the direction takes them. The level of musicianship is incredible. Drummers, keyboard players, guitarists of all creeds and musical connections bouncing off each other into the night.
Kae comes on stage to take the vocal lead, and suddenly we’re transported back to New York City 1940s clubland, her tonal control and poignant delivery conjuring the ghosts of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Later in the evening, an English saxophone player called Daisy Megee took the helm, riffing off the backdrop of a stunning keyboard, drum, guitar trio with brooding and sophisticated tenor melodies.
If music is a matter, here is where it manifests.