Pianist and educator Gary Matsumoto has been a mainstay in the Southern California music scene for over two decades. As a regular touring musician, he has shared the stage with such notable names as George Benson, Haley Reinhart, Gordon Goodwin, and Macy Gray. Currently, he can be seen nationally with Grammy Award winning vocalist Steve Tyrell. As an educator, Matsumoto has taught nationally recognized and award winning students in programs including Young Arts, Grammy Band, and Los Angeles’ Music Center Spotlight. He is on faculty at UC Riverside, El Camino College, and Los Angeles College of Music.
Matsumoto started playing piano at the age of 6, but his interest in music began to peak while attending the University of California, Irvine. There, in addition to classical lessons with Dr. Lorna Griffith and Keiko Halop, he studied jazz piano with Kei Akagi. In 1999, he graduated with a B.M. in music performance and in 2002 received his master's degree in jazz studies from the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with David Roitstein. Much of his early musical development can also be attributed to the variety of great teachers he was exposed to: Charlie Haden, Joe LaBabera, Larry Koonse, Darek Oles, Wadada Leo Smith, and James Newton.
Over the course of his career, Matsumoto has strived to keep a well rounded portfolio of work. His first multi state tour was with famed MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, opening for Cheap Trick. He also worked with film composer Nathan Wang on a variety of projects, including performing in concerts with international pop recording artists Coco Lee, JJ Lin, Vivian Hsu, and Jenny Tseng. Some of his earliest jobs were in musical theatre, where he worked as a pianist and musical director.
However, Matsumoto is most well known for his work as a jazz pianist. In 2008, SP records released The Matsumoto Trio - Days Ahead, his first as a leader. It featured Henry “Skipper” Franklin on bass and Tony Austin on drums. As a sideman, he has been featured on over two dozen recordings, most recently with Haley Reinhart, Crystal Lewis, and Dave Damiani. Other recording credits include Bruce Forman, Dave Koz, Renee Olstead, Spencer Day, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., Aubrey Logan, Maiya Sykes, Erin Boheme, and Kate Flannery (from NBC’s the Office). Other live performance credits include Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Jeff Clayton, James Carter, Herman Riley, Tierney Sutton, Jane Monheit, Sara Gazarek, Roy McCurdy, Sam Most, Azar Lawrence, James Tormé, Bobby Rodriguez, Grant Geissman, Keith David, Joe Piscopo, Don Most, Robert Davi, Sal “the Voice” Valentinetti, and Billy Vera. In 2020 he worked along side Steve Tyrell as co-arranger and accompanist for Ben Platt in Father of the Bride Part 3(ish).