Our today’s Person of The Week is a guitarist and songwriter who has over 4 decades experience in the music industry and is also a graphic designer from Germany. He is very candid, super funny and highly talented and I have been a fan of his songs for almost one year. Personally, it is a privilege to have him grace our Person of the Week column and as a fan of his music, I name him as our ULTIMATE POTW. Enjoy!
“My name is Matthias Coenen, I live in Germany with my family near Heidelberg, a city which may be known by it´s famous castle. I’m a Guitar player, for my own as well as with other musicians. I joined or founded several projects, bands, sessions and I also like to mix them all.“
Matthias had a wide grin on his face when I asked him about his age when he started playing. “I think I was about 14. My parents wanted me to learn classical guitar but I didn’t like it so much. I wanted to play songs, Blues, Rock, what teenagers loved in that time.” he said.
On what inspired him to become a Guitarist: “Girls 😉 Just kidding, but it was a good feeling playing on campfire near girls I had an eye on… But seriously: a friend of mine also played guitar, little longer than me, and we both loved music, especially Eric Clapton and his band Cream. And we loved Muddy Waters and other blues guys. So we thought we should learn that… and I’m still learning this …” he said.
Does he have idols he tries to emulate? “Yes and no” was his response. “Some people say: “Oh he sounds like Pat Metheny.” Yes, indeed, he is my big idol and I appreciate his approach to the instrument, and some other things I think I also got from him, but it’s impossible to reach that level and I don’t try this. The same thing with Santana; I love the sound and I love Latin music. Sometimes I may sound similar to him. But what people don’t know is, that there some more Latin players who sound very similar to him. Maybe Santana got this from these players but they are not so well known, such as for example David Amaro.
Matthias says he has “Eleven guitars. Sounds much, but I play acoustic guitar as well as electric guitars. So it’s 50/50. The acoustic guitars are half steel string and half nylon ones (which I like most) same with electric. Some are better for Jazz, some are better for Rock. Depends on the music I play.”
Mr Coenen says his heart belongs to jazz when we talked about different kinds of music he plays, but in a very broad way. My favourite is ECM jazz which is a German label with a certain style I like. They got artists like Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek etc. My fans may already know this, but I also love classic jazz like John Coltrane or modern straight ahead like Mike Brecker. Then I love Funk and Soul, black music and mixes of these with jazz. Therefore, I try to play music in several styles which I love.
Matthias currently has 3 running bands, and some more or less open projects: “Two Jazz bands, one is a Jazz quartet where we play mostly songs written by me. Very creative people, I give them any stuff and it’s great what they do with it! This band is named SHIP.” (www.ship-band.de)
“Then I got a great Jazz trio since about 15 years which is my most successful project. At this trio called SERENITY (www.trio-serenity.de) I play a lot with Nylon string guitar. I got an incredible flute player. Sometimes I don’t understand why he’s playing with me because he is world class. You should hear him, his name is Günther Johannes Schmitz. He’s a diamond and people are flashed when they hear him. We got a concert last weekend and it was so magical and also he’s a funny guy. We play songs from me or Günther or both and some covers of jazz with a lot of Latin influence, Bossa Nova etc.
Then a band where we play covers from Clapton, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, that sort of older mainstream Blues and Rock. I like this music category because as the leader sings and plays comping, I am free to add some notes here and there. It’s called BLUEBIRD.” www.bluebird-band.de
When I asked him what dream that he will like to get fulfilled in his musical career his response was so apt and funny: “Sometimes I dream one of my favourite funky jazz bands, Spyro Gyra, which I’ve been listening to since 40 years and from whom I learned a lot by playing along to their albums, would call me and say: “Hello, Jay Beckenstein speaking, we need a guitar player for our tour, Julio isn’t available. Do you want to join our band?”, and I thundered “YES!!!”, waking up to realize it’s just a dream.” Sighs.
Matthias can´t quite put his finger on what his most exciting project is, but he maintains that he feels quite comfortable and fulfilled playing with a lot of fantastic musicians in so many styles. “This is exciting!” he exclaimed.
He says he would like to have a foreign collaboration with Scandinavian players or with a Syrian Oud player. For a short period I had a project with a famous didgeridoo player, Charles Mac Mahoon who is well known in Australia.
Currently I play in a session band where people from Israel and South America joined the band. Our POTW has released 2 albums and you find information on his website:
Mobil: +49174 / 95 31 076
He ended the interview by thanking www.chiomaokoyeakpawusi.com for the opportunity to tell something about himself and his music and wishes us well.