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Matt Hall’s modern trombone travelogue

From Tennessee to San Diego to New York and back

Matt Hall: has horn, has traveled.
Matt Hall: has horn, has traveled.

Trombone virtuoso and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Matt Hall is poised, after a Covid-caused two-year delay, to release his first album on the noted independent label Summit Records, one that features an all-star lineup of mostly San Diego musicians. The opportunity to make the album came to Hall when he was getting his master’s degree at San Diego State University, he says. “It’s all kind of a blur. [Music entrepreneurship and business lecturer] Markus Burger approached me with the idea of producing a record. He thought it would be a good idea to concentrate on original tunes, and to get into the studio rather quickly.” Within a few months, Hall had the material: seven originals, plus one by bandmate Charlie Arbelaez, and the standard “Deep in a Dream.” The featured sextet includes Arbelaez on saxophone, Jason Shattil on piano, Louis Valenzuela on guitar, Mackenzie Leighton on double bass, and L.A. heavyweight Kevin Kanner on drums.

The album, I Hope To My Never?, traces the creative arc that began when Hall took up the trombone as a child in East Tennessee, then continued when he joined the military as a musician — the move that ultimately brought him to San Diego. After his military career, he and Arbelaez headed to New York to earn their bachelor’s degrees, but they eventually returned. Hall now lives in Palm Desert with his wife, Jeanne Gieger (a noted trombonist who has gigged with everyone from Green Day to Sheila E and Tommy Igoe), but he’s still commuting two-and-a-half hours to San Diego for gigs several times a week. Catch him every Tuesday night at North Park’s Seven Grand, fronting a quartet (with frequent guests) from 10 pm to 12:30 am. Hall also has a steady duo daytime session with guitarist Louis Valenzuela in Little Italy at the Pali Wine Company, every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.

Hall recorded in Los Angeles for creative reasons. “The producer [Markus Burger] has a really longstanding history with the engineer [James Linahon]. Jim has phenomenal ears. He’s in very high demand in the Los Angeles studio scene; he’s done a lot of sessions for film and television at Capitol Records. We knew we were creating a really quality project even before we left the studio that day. There are some modern vibes to it, but it is still heavily rooted in traditional mainstream jazz. I wrote most of the songs on the piano, so it’s very chord-changes oriented. It’s probably a bit of a departure for Markus, but only slightly. I mean, good music is good music.”

Looking back, Hall embraces his journey from Tennessee to San Diego to New York back to San Diego and up to Palm Desert, where he and Geiger have become homeowners. He has no regrets about his tenure with the U.S. Marine Corps, and would do it all over again. “Absolutely. It’s totally set me up for success now. If I hadn’t have done it, this whole gamut wouldn’t have happened. My life would be dramatically different. I probably wouldn’t have moved to California. Most likely, I would have stayed closer to home and my family back on the east coast. I believe that decision was one of the best moves I’ve ever made.”

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Matt Hall: has horn, has traveled.
Matt Hall: has horn, has traveled.

Trombone virtuoso and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Matt Hall is poised, after a Covid-caused two-year delay, to release his first album on the noted independent label Summit Records, one that features an all-star lineup of mostly San Diego musicians. The opportunity to make the album came to Hall when he was getting his master’s degree at San Diego State University, he says. “It’s all kind of a blur. [Music entrepreneurship and business lecturer] Markus Burger approached me with the idea of producing a record. He thought it would be a good idea to concentrate on original tunes, and to get into the studio rather quickly.” Within a few months, Hall had the material: seven originals, plus one by bandmate Charlie Arbelaez, and the standard “Deep in a Dream.” The featured sextet includes Arbelaez on saxophone, Jason Shattil on piano, Louis Valenzuela on guitar, Mackenzie Leighton on double bass, and L.A. heavyweight Kevin Kanner on drums.

The album, I Hope To My Never?, traces the creative arc that began when Hall took up the trombone as a child in East Tennessee, then continued when he joined the military as a musician — the move that ultimately brought him to San Diego. After his military career, he and Arbelaez headed to New York to earn their bachelor’s degrees, but they eventually returned. Hall now lives in Palm Desert with his wife, Jeanne Gieger (a noted trombonist who has gigged with everyone from Green Day to Sheila E and Tommy Igoe), but he’s still commuting two-and-a-half hours to San Diego for gigs several times a week. Catch him every Tuesday night at North Park’s Seven Grand, fronting a quartet (with frequent guests) from 10 pm to 12:30 am. Hall also has a steady duo daytime session with guitarist Louis Valenzuela in Little Italy at the Pali Wine Company, every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.

Hall recorded in Los Angeles for creative reasons. “The producer [Markus Burger] has a really longstanding history with the engineer [James Linahon]. Jim has phenomenal ears. He’s in very high demand in the Los Angeles studio scene; he’s done a lot of sessions for film and television at Capitol Records. We knew we were creating a really quality project even before we left the studio that day. There are some modern vibes to it, but it is still heavily rooted in traditional mainstream jazz. I wrote most of the songs on the piano, so it’s very chord-changes oriented. It’s probably a bit of a departure for Markus, but only slightly. I mean, good music is good music.”

Looking back, Hall embraces his journey from Tennessee to San Diego to New York back to San Diego and up to Palm Desert, where he and Geiger have become homeowners. He has no regrets about his tenure with the U.S. Marine Corps, and would do it all over again. “Absolutely. It’s totally set me up for success now. If I hadn’t have done it, this whole gamut wouldn’t have happened. My life would be dramatically different. I probably wouldn’t have moved to California. Most likely, I would have stayed closer to home and my family back on the east coast. I believe that decision was one of the best moves I’ve ever made.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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