Equally at home as a jazz and classical saxophonist, Conn-Selmer Endorsing Artist Matt Olson is a scholar and performer in the areas of jazz and saxophone. He has performed with a number of renowned artists, including Randy Brecker, Kurt Elling, Benny Carter, Ken Peplowski, Kevin Mahogany, Chris Vadala, Doc Severinsen, Manhattan Transfer, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Wayne Newton, the Temptations, the Four Tops, children's entertainer Shari Lewis, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. His performances have taken him to the Montreal Jazz Festival as well as Chicago's Jazz Showcase and Orchestra Hall.

Olson has performed at numerous conferences of the North American Saxophone Alliance and the World Saxophone Congress. He has also been a featured guest artist and clinician at Northwestern University, Arizona State University, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, the University of Idaho, and high schools throughout the United States. His article on Jerry Bergonzi's approach to intervallic improvisation was published in Downbeat magazine, and his jazz compositions are published by Walrus Music. Olson's debut jazz recording, Vortex, was released in 2006. He is also a co-leader of the Unhinged Sextet, a collaborative jazz sextet dedicated to the recording of original compositions. The group features educators from a number of key music schools throughout the United States. Unhinged’s first recording, Clarity, released on OA2 Records in March 2015, has received worldwide radio airplay and numerous positive reviews. They will record their second project in 2016 and release it in early 2017.

Olson is active nationally as a clinician and adjudicator. He has presented clinics at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Jazz Education Network Conference. He previously served as instructor of saxophone for the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities and summer jazz instructor for the National High School Music Institute at Northwestern University. Olson also conducted one of two South Carolina Band Directors Association All-State Jazz Ensembles in 2005. He holds memberships in a variety of professional music societies, including the North American Saxophone Alliance, BMI, Pi Kappa Lambda, MENC, Music Teachers National Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Name Title Description


Jazz Ensemble


Jazz Combo


Saxophone Quartet


Fundamentals of Jazz Improvisa

Focus on the techniques and performance practice of jazz improvisation. Includes practical application of melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and formal elements of the aural tradition of jazz.


Applied Jazz Improvisation

Continuation of topics from MUS-350. Individualized instruction, modeled after traditional one-on-one applied music study, with focus on more advanced applications of the melodic, harmonic, formal and textural elements of solo improvisation. May be repeated for credit.


Senior Project

Capstone requirement of music theory and/or composition degree programs. Synthesis and culmination of undergraduate music study, especially as it relates to the area of specialty.


Literature of the Instrument

Survey of the musical literature of a particular performance area. Students (typically performance majors) channel their research and study toward their own performance specialty and survey the general body of compositions written for that medium


The Music of John Coltrane

Saxophonist John Coltrane was a titanic figure in jazz history whose career simultaneously featured a quest for both musical discovery and spiritual truth. Students will study Coltrane's life and music, and will analyze a number of Coltrane's seminal compositions and improvised solos.


Jazz Performance Methods

Designed to prepare instrumental music education majors to teach jazz at the secondary school level, but open to any student with jazz experience. Focuses on jazz history, theory, improvisation, rhythm section techniques, rehearsal techniques, and jazz ensemble literature.

I work hard to ensure musical diversity in my saxophone studio. Students are free to study classical music, jazz, or a combination of the two. I encourage my students to take ownership of their playing and to create their own solutions to the challenges that they encounter.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Training Under
Debra Richtmeyer
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Frederick Hemke, Mike Kocour, Don Owens, Paul Bro and Jonathan Helton
Northwestern University

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