Bassist Matt McConahay first encountered tango when playing with IU’s Latin American Popular Music Ensemble at the Jacobs School of Music, when the ensemble recorded the album Paisaje Urbano (2011). Daniel Stein acted as producer and coach for the album’s tracks Libertango and Preludio para el año 3001, by bandoneónist and composer Astor Piazzolla.
McConahay remembers Stein’s coachings during the recording process as his first serious approach to the genre. Tango’s rhythms and danceability, as well as the special techniques involved in playing the tango bass— acting as a percussion instrument, the melodic center, or providing the harmonic foundation—have made McConahay’s interest in the genre grow.
McConahay has studied jazz with Ron Kadish, and Jeremy Allen, and his musical influences include Jaco Pastorious, Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis. He has performed with Jamey Aebersold and Pat Harbison’s Post Modern Jazz Quartet. He was the recipient of the Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Musician trophy in the 2007 Bloomington Jazz Fest. In the 2008 edition, he received the Top Player Jamey Aebersold Scholarship and, in 2009, he was also the recipient of the Shell Lake Scholarship.
His musical interests are diverse, listening to and playing a variety of styles and genres—Latin, jazz, classical, and funk. McConahay also plays the drums in his spare time, and enjoys playing sports and outdoor activities when he is not making music. He holds a bachelor in jazz performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.