Born in Germany in 1960, Matthew Von Doran grew up in Washington D.C., and Canada before the family finally settled in the Manhattan Beach area of Los Angeles County. The youngest in the family, he came under the musical influence of his older siblings, who exposed him early on to the sounds of the '60s and '70s. "I have a typical guitar player background," says Von Doran. "I started off in rock, listening to everything from the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix to Black Sabbath, Zeppelin and Aerosmith to Peter Frampton, Elton John, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills & Nash. So I was always into a fairly eclectic mix of things."

Von Doran began playing guitar at age 15 and by the time he got to college, in 1978, he started checking out jazz. He recalls one particularly significant turning point in his musical direction at that time. "At the junior college I was going to I saw Emmett Chapman, the guy who invented the Stick. He played a noontime concert, which was pretty amazing, and he did a tune off the Mahavishnu Orchestra's first album, Inner Mounting Flame. I think it was 'A Lotus on Irish Stream.' And this tune was so beautiful that I went out and got that record, and that was it for me. As a beginning player I was intrigued by all the chords that were very challenging to play in jazz. And this Mahavishnu album had all that quality but it also appealed to my rock sensibilities."

Swept away by the fusion movement, Von Doran soon became exposed to other important guitar influences, including Al Di Meola, Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Bill Frisell. And his search only led him deeper into jazz. Following stints at Citrus College and Mt. San Antonio College, he enrolled at the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) in 1980 and remained there for a year. "During that period I was exposed to some amazingly good players there like Pat Martino, Robben Ford, Steve Morse, Don Mock, Joe Diorio," he says. "So that had a tremendous influence on my playing and was another turning point in my education."

Through the '80s, Von Doran made a living playing guitar in strictly non-jazz settings while still maintaining his love of jazz. As he explains, "After I left GIT I got out there and started being a working musician, playing in various kinds of Top 40 bands and doing different things to make a living while being a closet jazzer. I was basically playing Top 40 for a living and working on jazz stuff at home but not really ever getting out there and playing jazz on the gig."

In 1986, Von Doran joined the Don Miller big band, which offered him an outlet for playing jazz while also providing him with a steady source of
income for the next 16 years. Along with a regular Monday night gig at an upscale restaurant, which lasted 11 years, the Don Miller big band also became the house band for two television shows taping in Hollywood -- "The Nanny" and "Seinfeld." As Matthew explains, "We were the band that played when the audience was coming in. Our job was to keep the vibe going while they were taping. Jerry later flew us out to New York to be the house band for his HBO special he did right after the show ended."

A few years ago, Von Doran began playing in a fusion cover band called New Trio of Doom (a sly insider reference to the Jaco Pastorius-John McLaughlin-Tony Williams Trio of Doom from the late '70s). He changed the name of the group to the Matthew Von Doran Trio a year ago and has been pursuing a career as a jazz artist ever since. And now he's taken a giant step in that direction with In This Present Moment, his auspicious debut as a leader.