Canadian Crooner, Matt Dusk, sits down with Press+1 (Kindah Mardam Bey) to talk about his new album “My Funny Valentine: A Chet Baker Songbook”, out in stores now. This was a fun interview, so check it out!





Chet Baker – a sadder Sinatra, a mellower Miles.  His fan club is significantly smaller, almost a cult really, beloved as a jazz man that should have been bigger, but sabotaged his career.  It’s the old story from jazz, drugs making a mess of the talent.  Yet he left a lot of excellence, and was a rare threat on two instruments, his trumpet, and his voice.

Baker’s best known for the definitive reading of My Funny Valentine, and it of course must kick off this examination of his songbook.  Oh, and hats off to Dusk, it’s a bold choice to cover the Baker book.  After all, it’s not exactly widely known.  Chet’s versions anyway.  Many of the tunes he favoured were standards, including Time After Time by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne, Embraceable You by the Gershwins, and Mercer/Arlen’s Come Rain Or Come Shine.  Dusk nails it in the liner notes, saying Baker had a remarkably quiet voice, pouring all the emotion into a delicate reading rather than a crooner’s use of volume.  Dusk has, technically, a better voice, and here does a fine job keeping it soft.  It’s not as sad as Baker sang, but of course, you could hear the serious blues the man carried around.

The album features tremendous arrangements throughout, especially on the orchestral tracks.  Being careful not to overwhelm the vocals, there’s a great live feel to the strings and horns, and a big symphonic section, complete with grand splashes of percussion.  Woodwind openings give way to washes of strings, gentle accents in place after almost every vocal line.  Harp!  Piccolo!  Thanks for the richness, folks.  It’s appreciated.  And the guest who drop by are there for excellent reasons, including the legendary Sandoval, soloing on trumpet and flugelhorn on three tracks, Guido Basso flugeling on another, and Emilie-Claire Barlow dropping in for a duet on Embraceable You.  Get lost in this.


Canadian crooner Matt Dusk has a new album out. Perfromance on CHCH.


Crooner Matt Dusk oozes style and old jazz standards

Toronto jazz singer Matt Dusk is as comfortable sporting slick Italian designer suits as he is singing old jazz standards, Jeanne Beker finds
By: Fashion Columnist, Published on Fri Feb 22 2013

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for romantic young men with a penchant for the past. Couple that with charisma, silken vocal chords and suave style, and Toronto’s Matt Dusk fits the bill.

The 34-year-old crooner, who just released his 5th album, “My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook,” is decidedly debonair, as comfortable sporting slick Italian designer suits as he is singing old jazz standards. Maybe it’s because his passion is performing that he realizes the importance of image, and that wearing certain clothes in a certain way is part the artistry you emit to an audience.

I first met Dusk in 2003, when we hired him to perform at the launch party of FQ Magazine, held at the newly opened Hotel Le Germain. I remember being taken not only with the guy’s big talent and strong self-confidence — most impressive for a 24-year-old — but also by his dapper sartorial style. Fast forward a decade later. I popped by the CP24 studio for a live hit with Stephen LeDrew last week, and there in the green room, waiting for his turn on the show, was the dashing Mr. Dusk. At first, I didn’t recognize him without his signature suit jacket. He was in shirt sleeves, but his striking striped tie, slick coif, and all-round aura of cool suggested he might indeed be someone to take style notes from. Within moments, he identified himself, and we started reminiscing about that old great party gig, when I first got turned on to his musical mastery.

Dusk grew up in Etobicoke, and though, like most kids his age, he was a pop music fan, he also couldn’t help falling in love with the great old jazz records his parents would play. He soon began collecting his own jazz recordings, inspired by the tunes of the late great Chet Baker. A student of St. Michael’s choir school, Dusk’s musical style evolved naturally, and his style sense grew with it. Polished suits soon became de rigueur, as he paid homage to many of his icons from the past. “When I was a teenager, some would giggle when I’d wear a suit,” Dusk says. “When I was first signed to a record deal, they tried to get me to wear jeans and a T-shirt. Now, people only think I wear suits, and it plays so well to the music I sing. Crooning is synonymous with dressing well.”

The mad affair with fashion likely started for Dusk when he began watching old movies. “I remember watching Casablanca when I was 17, and the only thing I remember was wanting a white dinner jacket!” he recalls. These days, a host of 20th century crooners constantly provide Dusk with his sartorial inspiration, who admits to having a poster of the “Rat Pack” on his wall. “Those guys not only knew how to sing, but they knew how to dress and live,” says Dusk. “It seems like a bygone era now.”

Dusk, who gets his hair cut at Toronto’s Pierre Lalonde salon, swears by tailored suits as the epitome of cool chic, but he also knows that quirky and unusual accessories, like watches, cufflinks, and tie clips, can really help punch up the personality in a look. “But it’s difficult to get really cool stuff nowadays,” he laments.

“Most things are inspired from the past, so why not find them in the past,” says Dusk, who frequents antique stores for his special finds. “If you really want to stand out, be unique,” he says. “Everything at an antique store is unique, for better or for worse. Just try to find something that matches your personality and you’ll be surprised at how many people will notices you … for better or for worse!” he laughs.

Dusk cites his beloved cufflinks as the most important item in his closet. “Every single pair has a story. I go hunting for these things and can remember where I got every pair,” he says.

Though he wasn’t wearing cufflinks on the day I ran into him at the CP24 studio, Dusk looked sharp. He was wearing his favourite label, Pal Zilera: The LAB shirt and LAB belt cost $195 each; the LAB jean were $295, and the LAB shoes were $450. Dusk’s Etro tie cost $145. His top shopping spot is Via Cavour, at 87 Avenue Rd. in Toronto, which he sees is as “one-stop shopping.” But aside from any tips about fancy clothes, if you really want to understand Matt Dusk’s style, listen to his new “Funny Valentine” CD. It exudes class and charm, and is bound to put you in the mood not only for love, but for an especially “cool” approach to dressing.

Q: What is your fashion philosophy?

A: When going out for a night on the town, dress to the nines

Q: Style or comfort?

A: Depends where I am. At home? Comfort. Gimme those track pants that I got back in 1998, with that T-shirt that says S/P but has been stretched into a tent over the years. But when I’m out, it’s a freshly ironed shirt, and a 2 or 3-piece suit, matching belt and shoes, and some retro cufflinks.

Q: Most inspiring style icon and why?

A: Cary Grant. That guy is the definition of cool. Even when he was just by the swimming pool, he always looked like he was wearing more than a bathing suit. There’s something to be said about classic style.

Q: If you had to, would you rather be over dressed or under dressed? Why?

A: Over Dressed! Unfortunately I have nothing in between dressing to the nines and dressing to the ones. And showing up at a fancy dinner in a three-piece suit is better than jeans and a polo shirt. I always ask myself: “How would James Bond dress?”

Q: Favourite fashion era and why?

A: I’m kind of attached to the ’60s. Well-tailored suits, skinny lapel’s, skinny ties, fitted pants. I’m a pretty slim guy, so by using smaller accents, it allows me to look proportional to my clothes. Have a look at my music video “My Funny Valentine.” A picture is worth a thousand words.

Jeanne Beker is a contributing editor to the Star and host of Fashion Television Channel. Email jeanne@ctv.ca , follow on Twitter @jeanne_beker and watch her on CTV, E! and FashionTelevisionChannel.

Matt Dusk talks Chet Baker, Valentine’s and Music

Canadian crooner Matt Dusk has a new album out, and it’s taken him back to his musical roots.  The pop-jazz performer pays tribute to the late great Chet Baker with My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook.  Aptly released just two days before the holiday whose name it bears, My Funny Valentine is a beautiful homage to the tragic trumpeter and singer. It takes a charmer to be a crooner, and Dusk has charm in spades, as I found out one snowy afternoon when I met the adorable singer to talk about music, life, love and our mutual addictions.

Nadia Elkharadly – How did you get your start in music?  I know you were a choir boy.

Matt Dusk – You did your homework! I was seven years old when I was sent to [St. Michaels] Choir school.  My parents wanted me to be a choir boy; it was a way to not have to pay for babysitters.

NE:  Is that how you discovered you were a good singer?

MD:  Oh god no—I was always second best. I was the second best singer at St Michael’s choir school, and now I’m the second best Canadian crooner (of course after Michael Buble)*laughs*.  But when I was in my teenage years, my buddies and I discovered karaoke.  One of my friends said: you should try this in front of an audience.  So we found another karaoke bar, and I got up in front of the crowd.  Then I sang and the girls went crazy.  It was awesome, people really got into it.

NE:  Did that crooner style voice come naturally?

MD:  No I was horrible in the beginning. I was a lounge singer kind of guy.  I went to York University and I was trained by [Canadian jazz pianist] Bob Fenton. He used to play piano for Billie Holiday, he’d lived a crazy life as a jazz musician, drugs and all and escaped from that life.  He was probably in his late seventies/early eighties when I starting working with him.  He had [whispered] no voice, because of that lifestyle.

NE:  How did you learn to sing from someone with no voice?

MD:  That’s how you have to learn to sing like a crooner.  Crooning is all about lyrical singing, it’s all about learning how to phrase correctly.  He didn’t have a voice but he would still sound amazing, that’s how Billie Holiday sounded too.  I was basically trained by the people who were living in that era, in its heyday, and now they’re all gone, all my teachers are dead!  So the lesson here is: don’t teach me! *laughs*

NE: But that’s incredible that you have the influence of that wealth of knowledge, and now no one else can.  Does that make you feel strange?

MD:  No because someone will learn from me, I’ll learn from someone else, it’s just that path.  There’s a reason why people still learn about opera and sing opera, the information still passed on.  A lot of the training we got won’t be as strong anymore, because there are fewer teachers.  It’s not a kind of music people experience on a daily basis anymore.

NE:  Would you call it a dying art form?

MD:  It’s a changing art form.  Western jazz music has become western classical music.  We don’t have standards anymore; the only standards we have left are Christmas [songs].  Jazz music has become a lifestyle kind of music, it fills a certain energy.  People like Harry Connick (Jr.), Michael Buble and I have careers because there is still a desire to go back to that lifestyle, that era.  We focus heavily on entertainment as well.  I can croon until the cows come home, but I also have to entertain.  I talk to the audience, I integrate them into my show, dancing, singing, all that stuff.  It’s what I do, it’s what I love.

NE:  What jazz greats influenced you?

MD: [Frank] Sinatra was my intro to jazz.  I didn’t like Billie Holiday until I got older.  Listening to the way she phrases, she’s so naturally talented at keeping rhythm and using her instrument [her voice], which had deteriorated towards the end of her life.  But she didn’t have that beautiful skill to perform.  Later I got into Tony Bennett and then Harry Connick Jr.  Harry Connick Jr. is a huge influence on me because he’s still alive, and I could see him on stage.  I’ve even met him a couple of times and every time I do I shit my pants *laughs*.  I just stand there speechless.  I never tell him who I am.  I’m a huge fan.

NE:  You’ve got a large fan base as well.  What’s it like having fans?

MD:  It’s an ego boost, and it’s just great to meet people that really love music.  I don’t want to hang out with people outside of that world.  Someone who doesn’t have that sense of love for something that specific, it’s just frustrating.  It’s frustrating dealing with people who don’t have that kind of love and passion in their lives.  I’m lucky to be doing something I love so much, and to meet people and interact with people who understand that and have that some love.  That’s why every day when I get up and go to work (which is getting on stage and singing) the reality is that there’s a huge economic environment happening around it, the business of music, but there’s nothing of that when I’m performing.  That’s what the fans love.  The audience is drawn in, with their chins in their hands.  They’ve loving not me, but the music.

NE:  You’ve just released an album called The Chet Baker Songbook.  How did the idea for the album come about?

MD:  Chet Baker was one of the guys I listened to when I was a teenager getting into jazz.  He was the perfect backdrop to do homework—it’s very soft, very cool.  I knew that “My Funny Valentine” was his most popular song.  Through the years I’ve really tried to contemporize jazz music with pop, and so far it’s been fairly successful.  But ultimately, I’m a crooner and I really wanted to go back and showcase the type of music that I am about.  Chet baker was one of those guys that first got me into this stuff, and no one talks about him anymore.  Everyone knows who he is, but they don’t know what he did outside of “My Funny Valentine.”  His music really sets a mood that I think is lost, and that mood is: fireplace, wine, forgetting about the night with your partner.  I really wanted this album to be like that.  This record is very slow and orchestrated and thematic.  It realty sets the mood, and I love that feeling.  There’s no one better than Chet Baker for that.

NE:  You mentioned that this record was very orchestral, I read that you recorded with an eighty-piece orchestra, what was that like?

MD:  The biggest track has about eighty musicians.  I think recording and performing with an orchestra is so classic.  I wanted to pull out all the stops on this.  I was paying homage to Chet Baker.  I not only wanted to make the music sound good, but I wanted to sound good.  I wanted to work with the greatest people as well.  Arturo Sandoval [who played trumpet on the record] is a very famous trumpet player, very big in the latin jazz genre.  He was trained by Dizzy Gillespie; he was his protégé.  He’s known for playing super high and crazy lines, but he’d recently come out with a record called A time for love, and on it he plays softly and quietly.  It’s funny because he’s not known for that, and yet he can do it very very well.  As a crooner, I usually sing on uptempo songs and on this record I had to really get into that tired, quiet voice, so it was a similar experience.  He was awesome to work with.  I also brought on a Canadian singer named Emily Claire Barlow, we’re contemporaries, we share many of the same band members but we’ve never gotten a chance to sing with each other.  She’s so incredibly sexy when she sings.  It was great to work with her as well.

NE:  Can you pick a favorite song from the album?

MD:  It depends on my mood, but one of my favourites is “Deep in a Dream”.  Imagine a guy walking into his apartment, he sits down in his chair, he’s depressed and he’s been drinking.  It’s like he’s going in and out of a dream.  He turns the lights down, takes out a cigarette and lights it.  As the cigarette smokes rises, it turns into a stairway and he sees a woman, his ex, his wife, maybe she’d died.  He’s being drawn into her more and more, and all of a sudden the cigarette burns his hand and he’s hocked out of the dream.  And the lyrics say: “my hand doesn’t hurt but there’s pain in my heart”.  Everyone’s been there!  Just as the moment comes when you thought you’d been reunited, you’re back in the misery.  And that’s why it’s called “Deep in a Dream”.

NE:  You should make that into a video!

MD:  I know, I was asking what the CG budget is for the next video. *laughs*

NE:  Our magazine is called Addicted so I have to ask:  what are your addictions?

MD:  Music!  Music is my life.  I love having a constant backdrop of music.  Besides music, I’m addicted to sailing, I love the water, I have a boat and I sail as often as I can.  It’s the ultimate equalizer.  It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, when you’re on the water, you’re with nature and that’s it.

Tweet us at @weraddicted to win your own copy of My Funny Valentine.  The first fan to tweet at us asking for a CD wins!

Matt Dusk on eTalk

Tour Matt’s house as he talks about his upcoming album MY FUNNY VALENTINE: THE CHET BAKER SONGBOOK


Marilyn Denis Perfomance and Interview on CTV

Matt performs My Funny Valentine and has and interview with Marilyn Denis


My Funny Valentine #1 on Canadian Jazz Amazon.ca

My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook is now Number one on the Amazon Jazz Charts.


The Buzz from www.newcanadianmusic.ca

Published February 13, 2013

Suave and smooth-voiced Toronto crooner Matt Dusk may not have scored a Buble-style breakthrough, but that’s not to say he hasn’t enjoyed commercial success  at home, or in foreign markets such as Japan and France. In fact, earlier albums’  Two Shots and Good News have both earned gold certifications at home here. He’s back again having signed  a new record deal with eOne Ent., and more bullish than ever about the future, and the release of his sixth album, My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook. Given the enduring appeal of Baker’s sweetly melancholy work, the choice of material is a smart one. The album gets the big production treatment, with an 80-piece orchestra and such illustrious guests as Emilie-Claire Barlow and two of the jazz world’s finest trumpet players, Arturo Sandoval and Canadian veteran Guido Basso. Dusk’s mellow vocals do justice to such Baker gems as “Let’s Get Lost”, “Come Rain Or Come Shine”, “Someone To Watch Over Me” and, of course, “My Funny Valentine”. No surprise that the scheduled release date is Feb. 12, just two days before Valentine’s Day. . We’re especially  impressed by the title cut. Could this be a dawn of a new era for Dusk?

My Funny Valentine #1 on iTunes Jazz

My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook is now Number one on iTunes Jazz Charts.

iTunes Link