Matt Littlewood and Bangalore’s listening public aren’t strangers to each other: it’s a long, frequently-renewed association between the jazz saxophonist and the city. Originally from the UK, Matt settled down in Auroville soon after completing his degree; it’s been nearly 15 years that he’s made India his home. He often does the up-and-down journey between Auroville and Bangalore, to play with one of the many bands he’s a part of. Recently, he was in town to play a gig at the Windmills Craftworks, a new venue that’s opened up in Whitefield. “The good places to play down south are here,” he says of Bangalore. “Chennai – not so much.”
“Yes and no,” says Matt, when I ask him if he grew up in a musical family. “My father played a little bit of piano.”
Matt studied piano as a child, and then, in high school, discovered a band playing traditional Dixieland jazz. “I wanted to take up an instrument more aligned to jazz, so I picked up the saxophone,” he says.
Today, Matt plays with a handful of bands — besides the city-based UNK (fronted by Radha Thomas), he’s also part of Temple Rock, an outfit fronted by his Carnatic music teacher. “I enjoy fusion,” he says, adding that “it has to be the right kind of fusion — with people who gel well and want to collaborate”.
He’s also been working on his own music as well; indeed, he’s even put together two solo albums. “But it’s too much for one person to organise everything,” he decided. That said, he’s continued to work on his own compositions.
The travelling around for gigs can get hectic, especially since Matt doubles as a teacher in a school in Auroville. “I give a lot of priority to my teaching,” he says. “I don’t want to be travelling all the time. The kids need some stability.”
“I’m very interested in education, and sharing with what I do in music,” he says; Matt recognises the importance of a good teacher because he’s felt it first-hand, being largely self-taught.
In fact, it’s to document his own journey that he had even set up a blog, called Sax India, where he collects useful articles and tips for jazz musicians.