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A Freak goes to Holland

Matt Cashdollar and the Madcap 4 to play Holland's North Sea Jazz Festival

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


Fort Wayne audiences might know Matt Cashdollar as a member of the Freak Brothers, a consistent crowd favorite around town with a very enthusiastic following. But the Freak Brothers is just one of several musical projects Cashdollar is involved with. An avid jazz performer who is just finishing up graduate work at IU in Bloomington, Cashdollar is currently prepping his jazz combo, the Madcap Four, for a performance at the 30th North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague in the Netherlands, July 8 – 10.

The Madcap Four was formed as part of Indiana University’s music department combo program. From thousands of entries worldwide, the Madcap Four was one of perhaps a dozen “student” bands selected to play the festival. “People from all over the world play at the North Sea Jazz Festival,” says Cashdollar. “To see us represented among them in itself is a pretty big honor.”

Indeed. The North Sea Jazz Festival is one of the world’s leading international jazz festivals, playing host to over 1,000 artists each year in styles that range from traditional big band to avant-garde jazz to rock and soul fusion. The Madcap Four will find themselves in pretty illustrious company; a list of previous performers reads like a flip-through of The Encyclopedia of Jazz — Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, B.B. King…

… and John Zorn, the boundary-pushing composer/saxophonist whose group Masada was the inspiration for the Madcap Four. “I really wanted to have a group that connected like that, that communicated to the level that they did,” Cashdollar says. “It’s almost telepathic, how those guys play with each other.” Though Cashdollar says that he had originally envisioned the Madcap Four just performing the Zorn material, once they got going and the band came together, the composition bug bit him, and he started adding his own stuff. The CD that earned the Madcap Four a place at the Northsea Jazz Festival is divided between original compositions and original arrangements of material by Ornette Coleman (another inspiration for the group), John Coltrane, and Zorn.

Cashdollar actually got in the festival twice. Another project, the Saxophone Cartel, a combo of five (you guessed it) sax players, also made the cut. Logistically and financially, however, taking both bands proved impossible. “Both groups were going to have to share one slot instead of both getting a slot of their own,” Cashdollar says. “It just made more sense to take one group.”

Besides finishing up work on his Master’s degree at IU, Cashdollar and the rest of the Madcap Four are trying to raise the money to make the trip over to Holland. A recent show at the Mid-City Grill made a dent in the projected budget, and Cashdollar hopes further shows in the area will help to take as much of the financial burden off the band members as possible. But no matter what, Cashdollar says they’re going. Careers have been made at the North Sea Jazz Festival, and on both a personal and professional level, the opportunity is just too good to let anything stand in the way. “We’ve never been overseas, and I’ve never done a jazz festival of this size in my life,” he says. “This will be exciting for all of us.”

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.