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For many professional musicians, often a moment in time or an influential person that sets the path for one to take a leap into the long desire and urge to take their craft as serious as need to be to become that musician they so desire. For Croatian pianist Matija Dedic, that moment, that person was his father, Arsen Dedic. It was Arsen’s influence and encouragement that made Matija take that step and it was his gift of a recording of Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert that put Matija on the path to creative and jazz music. And so it makes perfect sense that after the passing of Arsen, Matija would set out to dedicate a very special set of tunes to the memory of his father. This album, Dedicated, is just that; a dedication to Matija’s father who had recently passed and in turn, inspired this collection of music to remember his father and the importance he played in his life, career, and motivation to be here now-in the now as displayed by his mastery of the piano and the music created in his body and soul.
Though, not necessarily a common jazz-household name in the United States, Matija Dedic has been a dominating figure in the jazz and popular music scene in Croatia and throughout Europe for over 20 years. He has shared the stage and/or recorded with an array of current trendsetters in the world of jazz and creative music including folks like John Hollenbeck, Buster Williams, Alvin Queen, and Martin Drew to name a few. On his last three trio records, he was supported by powerhouse rhythm sections of Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, Kendrick Scott and Vicente Archer, and Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez. A short list of engagements had him in Turkey, Spain, Austria, Sweden, England, Brasil, USA, and more. As a leader, he has released records on Blue Bamboo, Origin, Dallas and Workin’ labels. Most recently he was featured at the Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival where ears&eyes Records director Matthew Golombisky and Matija grabbed a couple cups of coffee and rapped the jazz scenes in Eastern Europe, Buenos Aires and various cities in the US while also getting really excited about this current release.
Dedicated is both a play on Matija’s last name, Dedic, but more importantly that the album is dedicated to his father. Arsen Dedic played an incredibly important and crucial part of Matija’s pursuit in music, piano and jazz and who in his own right Arsen was an accomplished composer, songwriter and poet.
Arsen’s fame spreads throughout Croatian culture as the creator of Croatian chanson transforming his words and music to use as subtle commentary about political turmoil. Included in this musical family and upbringing is Matija’s mother, singer Gabi Novak who was born in Berlin during World War II and thereafter moved to the island Hvar where Matija spent his childhood summers and composed much of this current album. (Tune ‘Return from the Island’ is a direct reference.) At the Bled Jazz Festival in 1958, Gabi sang a duet with Louis Armstrong. In her youth, she also sang with Phil Woods, Gary Burton, and Joe Turner. In 2003, she received a Porin (Croatia’s most prestigious music award) for “Best Female Vocal Performance” for her performance on the album "The Song is My Life" and in 2006, for “Special Contribution to Croatian Pop Music”. The Dedic family though, on a whole, is among some of the most winning artists since the Porin’s inception in 1993. Arsen received 15 in total including “Album of the Year” and “Best Pop & Classical Music” in 2005, “Best Pop Album” in 2009 and 1998, “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 1999. He also received Jacques Brel Award in France and the Premio Tenco Award in San Remi, Italy. Matija has received 25 Porins, so far, including last year’s “Album of the Year”.