I'm a Chicago based bassist/composer and bandleader. People have told me I have an instantly recognizable sound. My music, from small, diverse chamber ensembles to full orchestras, is informed by the entire spectrum of jazz, classical, rock, pop, and folk– specifically American, South American, Balkan, and other European folk styles. I've been performing for 25 years on upright, electric, and brass basses and for over two decades, I have been the leader of my own groups as well as a frequent collaborator. I have produced thirteen albums of all original music under my name. I have music degrees from Depaul and Roosevelt University and am in high demand as a bassist in Chicago. As a composer, I have collaborated with diverse ensembles such as Eighth Blackbird, Miami String Quartet, New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Axiom Brass, Wild Belle, Guimaraes (Portugal) Jazz Festival, Projeto Arcomusical, and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition.
This video performance from 2013 features my quintet, Matt Ulery's Loom, while on tour promoting our "Wake an Echo" album. The concert took place at the famed NPR Tiny Desk series at the NPR headquarters in D.C. On this video, we performed two of my original compositions, "Coriander," and "My Favorite Stranger." This ensemble features Marquis Hill -trumpet, Geof Bradfield - bass clarinet, Rob Clearfield- keyboard and accordion, Jon Deitemyer- drums, and me, Matt Ulery, on double bass. Run time: 13:27
This video is from a live concert September 17th, 2021 in Chicago (our home) at our beloved performance venue, Constellation. The video is the entire one-set performance and is all original music that I composed and premiered on this date with this new ensemble, Matt Ulery's Mannerist 11. On September 19th, 2021 (2 days after the performance) we recorded all of this music in a recording studio. Our studio album will be released on my label, Woolgathering Records, in Fall 2022. This will be my twelfth album as a leader and I intend on touring with this ensemble as well as a smaller version when necessary. The music begins at 2:45 and there are six pieces total running one hour in length. The ensemble features, Constance Volk - flute, Andrew Nogal - oboe, Zach Good - clarinet, Matthew Oliphant - french horn, Ben Roidl-Ward - bassoon, Dustin Laurenzi - tenor saxophone, James Davis - trumpet, Chris Shuttleworth - trombone, Paul Bedal - piano, Jon Deitemyer - drums, and me, Matt Ulery - double bass.
This video is a short documentary (6:47) about the commissioning and premier of Become Giant, a piece I composed for string sextet+drums that was commissioned by Nathan Cole (First Associate Concertmaster of LA Phil) and the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington (KY) in 2017. The piece is 40 minutes in length and features violin soloist, Zach Brock. In October 2021, we performed and recorded this piece along with a new work of mine for the same instrumentation, but with Chicago based musicians (and Zach, who lives in NYC). The studio album (which will be my thirteenth as a leader) will be released in early 2023 and I am in the process of setting up release concerts.
The work samples I submitted are only three of my performing ensemble projects. Approximately each year, I composed a new batch of music for a new ensemble. My omnivores musical tastes push me to finding new possibilities in a thrilling variety of styles. The first work sample (Tiny Desk) is good proof that I've been active for years and that I've been able to reach a substantial audience. The other two examples prove that I continue to produce new works for performance and touring.
When not touring parts of the U.S. and Europe, I'm extremely active in the Chicago area music scenes as a bassist/composer/bandleader/collaborator, and have performed with my own groups at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, NYC Winter Jazz Festival, Chicago Orchestra Hall, Millennium Park Pritzker Pavillion, Chicago Cultural Center, The Krannert Center, Jazz Showcase, The Metro, Chicago Jazz Festival, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Chicago World Music Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Guimaraes Jazz Festival, and countless other fine music listening rooms. I've written and produced thirteen albums of all original music (number twelve and thirteen are forthcoming).
I lead and compose all the music for several of my own ensembles, including Sifting Stars Orchestra (orchestral art songs), Loom Large (jazz big band), Loom (jazz quintet), Delicate Charms (jazz quintet), Pollinator (jazz brass band), By a Little Light Ensemble (chamber jazz nonet), Become Giant (string sextet+drums) , and various other pet projects.
I first started writing music because I was intrigued by the whole thing; how all the parts fit together logistically to make something completely artful that can somehow move us emotionally and physically. It all starts with good taste and a little (or a lot) of effort. Musicians have many outlets of this art form to explore, grow, and learn from through personal practice including composition, instrumental technique, improvisation (freely and with creative limitation), conceptual approach and philosophy. One of the major aspects of my artistry is musical composition (or improvisation with more of an editing process) including writing, arranging, and orchestrating. I am inspired by all kinds of music and always strive for maximum range of emotional depth in what I view as a mostly experimental practice informed by personal, musical experience. Part of what I feel can be be special about writing music is that it can be something fresh without reinventing it every time. There’s so much out there already, that when given (or perhaps when we give ourselves) the opportunity to contribute our compositional voice, all it really takes, in my opinion, is honesty. Honesty in music is fresh.
5030 N. Ridgeway Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
$500 - $10,000