Matthew Shell | First Light

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MTS Music Productions Narked Records

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Jazz: Cool Jazz New Age: Neo-Classical Moods: Type: Instrumental
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First Light

by Matthew Shell

This hour-long, continuous-play album is perfect for relaxing, studying, or just being tranquil.
Genre: Jazz: Cool Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Intimate Awakening
6:23 $0.99
2. Euphoria
8:46 $0.99
3. Infinite Love
3:01 $0.99
4. Exhilaration
1:19 $0.99
5. Altered Perspective
4:00 $0.99
6. Peaceful Connection
2:19 $0.99
7. Flavor of Desire
2:19 $0.99
8. The Awakening
2:43 $0.99
9. Amplification
1:36 $0.99
10. Romantic Emotion
2:06 $0.99
11. Dancing in the Rain
5:26 $0.99
12. Embracing Time
1:46 $0.99
13. Dare to Live
0:53 $0.99
14. The Escape
1:48 $0.99
15. Breathe Again
5:00 $0.99
16. Soul Stabilization
5:21 $0.99
17. Actualization Celebration
7:11 FREE
18. The Christmas Song
3:32 FREE
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
This hour-long, continuous-play album FIRST LIGHT is perfect for relaxing, studying, or just being tranquil.

© 2017 MTS Music Productions
℗ 2017 Narked Records / MTS Music Productions


NARKED RECORDS is delighted to announce the forthcoming release of the highly anticipated new album, “First Light” by acclaimed artist and producer MATTHEW SHELL. The hour-long jazz opus boasts of a complex arrangement featuring 17 key changes and 20 tempo changes, all created by Shell in a single twelve hour session. The music on the recording has been brought to life by Vahagn Stepanyan on the piano and upright bass, Kenny Wesley on vocals, Kenny Darby on keys, Curtis McCain on percussion, Nicolas Laget on flute and sax, Yoed Nir on cello, and Shell himself on guitar.

“First Light” was born in a single burst of inspiration. On the day Shell’s wife took on a new job for better work/life balance, Shell hit the studio to create this hour-long arrangement to fully explore the range of emotions felt by his wife. Shell’s unreleased 2016 production of “The Christmas Song” was originally only made as a gift for his family, but it has been included as a bonus track since it was the first instance where Shell attempted explore the “First Light” sound.


MATTHEW SHELL (aka MTS) is the founder and CEO of MTS Music Productions. He is a music producer, audio production engineer, music business instructor, and producer for the music competition “The O” (as seen at


Shell’s work on the production for Marcus Johnson’s album Flo: Chill reached #7 on Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Chart in 2009. Later that year he worked as the engineer on O.A.R.’s album Rain or Shine that reached #5 on the Independent Albums Chart and also #7 on the US Alternative Albums Chart. In 2011, his work on Grammy Nominee Carolyn Malachi’s Beautiful Dreamer was featured on FOX 5 DC Morning News.

In 2012, Shell’s album Freedom, his collaboration with Trey Eley was launched by the Recording Academy via a Worldwide Exclusive First Listen at ( The album was also featured as one of Generation Bass’ Top Albums for 2012.

In 2013, Shell collaborated with Arun Shenoy on Genesis, a jazz instrumental single, which received massive airplay and went on to be the lead song on the full length album, Victorious (Matthew Shell Presents), released later in the year.

In 2015, Shell released his next album Spiritual Relationship: The Deeper Meaning in 2015, the music on which was conceived by Shell over a period of 15 years. During this process, over 200 songs were created and scratched before this final version of 11 songs were picked to be recorded and released as part of this project. Shell’s wife, Terra, inspired the completion of this concept album which goes from two destined souls being alone, to meeting, to growing in love, to protecting each other, to finding true love that lasts a lifetime.


Production, songwriting, arrangement and guitar by Matthew Shell
Vocal artistry by Kenny Wesley
Flute and saxophone by Nicolas Laget
Piano and upright bass by Vahagn Stepanyan
Rhodes keyboard by Kenny Darby
Percussion by Curtis McCain

Tracks 17 and 18 feature cello ensemble arranged and performed by Yoed Nir String Productions
Track 18 features vocals by Zane Alan Latta | Saxophone by Marcus Mitchell | Flute by Wouter Kellerman | As written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Torme | As made famous by Nat King Cole

Recorded, engineered and mixed by Nicolas Laget and Matthew Shell at The Sweet Spot Studio, Annandale, VA
Mastered by Nicolas Laget and Matt Veirs at the Sweet Spot Studio, Annandale, VA
Art design by Alexandra S. Haris
Executive produced by Arun Shenoy, Terra Tuono-Shell and Matthew Shell



to write a review

Lee Whitaker

First Light
Matthew Shell makes great music! His projects are all very different and creative. The soothing piano, sax, and flute riffs in First Light give a euphoric feeling drifting from one track to another.

Milana Zilnik

From the romance of a starry night into the mystery of ancient tribes
When Matthew Shell asked me to review his album, I knew that I will be taken on a journey. Right from the beginning, the first track “Intimate Awakening” puts you into a very bright and positive vibe. The rich, almost cinematic piano sends out a ray of simple motif that develops more layers and colors as the track progresses. Drums are framing the piano very spaciously, fusing the ethnic and Latin jazz together, giving it a very free flow. As the title promises, the track “awakens” when an ethnic flute comes in by surprise, longing and spiritual.

This flute transforms the “awakening” into the “Euphoria” of the second track – dreamy and smooth as a silk. The piano joins in, timid at first, answering the flute and then slowly taking the lead in Tango-like solo. I truly love how piano, flute and then sax and vocalization talk to each other in a passionate Latin dance. The following twists and turns come by surprise, balancing on an edge and turning the track into a complete mystery. Such a rich journey, with abrupt tempo changes, exploring different moods. The male vocal is absolutely stunning, taking the flight in its highs!

“Infinite love”, the third track, starts with an ecstatic flute and continues to the dialogue with the same vocal in the style of tribal shaman chants at times. “Exhilaration” is true to its name – full of spiritual happiness and dreaming on a cloud. I must mention that I love how the album flows continuously with tracks seamlessly transforming from one into another. “Altered Perspective” continues the dreamy moods with lush multi-layered vocal harmonies, putting you in the mood of “Lion King”'s “Hakuna matata”. “Peaceful connection”, the 6th track, lets saxophone to sing its song, teasing the other parts of the trio: the vocal and the flute.

“Flavor of desire”, the 7th track, starts slow, sensual and bluesy, Bossa-Nova style. However, it doesn't stay in there, evolving into an upbeat Elton John-style second part. “The Awakening” got quite sophisticated lines, sounding almost independent of each other, like Brazilian Carnival. “Amplification”, gets back to relaxed moods and transforms into even more relaxed and dreamy “Romantic emotion”. The ending, again, takes by surprise with the stunning mysterious upright bass solo coupled with the almost spooky drum and bursts of ecstatic flute, preparing you for another tribal experience of “Dancing in the rain”, transforming into free jazz with New Age harmonies and enigmatic repetitive rhythmic patterns.

The 12th track, “Embracing time” got a haunting feel of bittersweet life, being both lost in between the worlds and being one with the world. “Dare to live” sounds like a prayer, short and raw. “The Escape” answers the prayer by letting the hope come in and take you back to light. “Breath again” is just beautiful in its smooth silky flow. “Soul stabilization” continues the same free flowing meditation. “Actualization celebration” goes further into the spacious atmospheric contemplation, opening up and evolving into lush romantic journey, full of hope yet with a glimpse of sweet nostalgia.

“First Light” is a very atmospheric album, with vivid images, free spirit, rich harmonies and surprising twists. Take a glass of wine with your loved one, close your eyes and it will take you on a journey from the romance of a starry night into the mystery of ancient tribes and back to the stars and above the clouds.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
There are quite a few rather unusual (but compelling) things about Matthew Shell’s "First Light." The first is that the music is the product of a single twelve-hour session. On the day that the music was created, Shell’s wife started a new job and Shell went into the studio to fully explore the range of emotions she was experiencing. Another unusual aspect of the album is that although this is not a concert performance, there are no breaks between the eighteen tracks - they flow from one to the next (except the bonus track at the end). The individual pieces range in duration from 53 seconds to almost nine minutes for a “performance” that lasts a bit more than an hour. Within this jazz opus is a complex arrangement that features seventeen key changes and twenty tempo changes. The music is beautiful, impeccably recorded and often very rhythmic. It is a unique listening experience and one that I have been enjoying immensely.

Executive produced by Arun Shenoy, Matthew Shell handled production, songwriting, arrangement and guitar. Shell is the founder and CEO of MTS Music Productions as well as a music producer, audio production engineer and music business instructor. He has released several albums under his own name as well as collaborations and productions with other artists. Guest artists on First Light include vocalist Kenny Wesley, Nicolas Laget (flute and sax), Vahagn Stepanyan (piano and upright bass), Kenny Darby (Rhodes keyboard) and Curtis McCain (percussion). Although there are vocals on most of the tracks, only Shell’s arrangement of Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song” has lyrics - the others are vocalizations.

There are too many tracks to mention them all, but I’ll cover a few of my favorites. I love the opening track, “Intimate Awakening,” one of the more piano-driven pieces. Piano, bass and percussion are cool and breezy, but there is an emotional complexity that intensifies as the piece evolves. The flute enters near the end, adding another soulful element as the piece gradually segues into “Euphoria,” another favorite. Laget switches from flute to sax after a couple of minutes and Kenny Wesley’s voice enters and becomes a fifth instrument in the ensemble. Later, the piece changes rather dramatically and slows to a more mysterious, sensuous feeling that melts into “Infinite Love,” a shorter but equally evocative track. Jumping ahead a little bit is “Altered Perspective,” an exhilarating mix of vocals, piano, sax, bass, keyboard and percussion that leads into the smooth and magical “Peaceful Connection.” “The Flavor of Desire” picks up the tempo and intensity, giving Laget plenty of room to soar on both sax and flute. “Romantic Emotion” is a sensual slow dance with piano and sax creating a warm and inviting ambiance. “Dancing In the Rain” is enchanting, slow and relaxed. Even with its under-a-minute brevity, I love “Dare to Live” - some music makes its full impact very quickly! “Actualization Celebration” is one of the longer pieces and is simply gorgeous. Cello (Yoed Nir String Productions) and guitar make a wonderful pairing in this warm and stirring expression of love and contentment that eventually includes most of the ensemble. Shell’s arrangement of Mel Torme’s classic “The Christmas Song” is included as a bonus track. The piece was originally intended as a gift for Shell’s family, but is a lovely closing to the album.

"First Light" is an exceptional listening experience and I’m looking forward to hearing more of Matthew Shell’s music! Recommended!!!

Steve Pullara

Matthew Shell's "First Light" is a beautiful collection of songs textured in Jaz
Matthew Shell's "First Light" is a beautiful collection of songs textured in Jazz, World Music with a dash of New Age for ambient flavor on a dish of Ethereal Moods. This album contains a mix of melodies embedded with excellent flute (Nicolas Laget/Wouter Kellerman), piano (Vahagn Stepanyan), keyboards (Kenny Darby), saxophone (Nicolas Laget/Marcus Mitchell), guitar (Matthew Shell), singing (Kenny Wesley/Zane Latta), world percussion (Curtis McCain), upright bass (Vahagn Stepanyan), and a cello ensemble (Yoed Nir).

These musicians know their craft which comes through on every note of this album.

Matthew Shell's studio mix is humming with audio colors that will relax your mood or help you imagine a place of serenity. Enjoy the peace music like this can bring. Sit back and enjoy.
-Steve Pullara, GRAMMY Recipient, Two GRAMMY Nomintions, Producer and multiple award winning recording artist


Brilliant and groundbreaking jazz album for everyone
First Light is jaw-droppingly wonderful, from the opening notes right until the end. Shell and company have produced an album that begins a new era in jazz; the resurgence of cool jazz. The music is not smooth jazz, it is REAL jazz, but in a cool style - accessible to every listener and intriguing to jazz lovers in particular. Magnificent and highly recommended work!


Rarely does a musician, producer, the engineer displays the talent, touch and artistic insight creates a project like this. Like Jethro Tull's epic "Thick As A Brick," Yes, "Close to the Edge," Or Miles Davis' "Jack Johnson," and "In A Silent Way." Matthew Shell's latest offering, "First Light" is an effort worthy of those comparisons. It's delicate, sensitive, and passionate. It's wistful, dramatic and expressive. In short, this is something you have to own as an aprt of your music collection. I'm sure it will provide countless hours of listening pleasure. A must-have for ANY music lover!

Natalie Jean

Beautiful album. Arrangements are outstanding. This album takes you on a beautiful melodic Journey!!

Khoa Nguyen

Over a decade of quality work!
I've been following Matthew for over 14 years and he has been very consistent with his work. I am amazed at the improvements of every single album released. This album is definitely worth the time and money, I can't wait until the next one!

Janice Slater

A welcomed return from Matthew Shell
From the opening piano to the soaring improvisation vocals 'First Light' is a first class album from composer/producer/Matthew Shell. It's always a delight to hear the artistry of the musicians and vocalists that he brings to the table. Loving this album.

Chris F. Minshew

Beautifully Soothing
First Light is a wonderful collection of songs that are both uplifting and soothing. This album will stand the test of time in its genre as a "go-to" when I need something to listen to calm my mind as well as overall relaxation!
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