Jazz bassist Matthew Garrison doesn’t like to slow down. “I’m always thinking, doing,” he said.
As a performer, he has toured with Herbie Hancock, and as a producer, he is helping to organize upcoming shows with pianist Jason Moran, drummer Jack DeJohnette and others. But most days, he focuses on producing music events through the ShapeShifter Lab and its nonprofit arm, ShapeShifter Plus. He also created the Tunebend app, which facilitates virtual collaboration and recording between musicians.
Mr. Garrison, son of Jimmy Garrison, John Coltrane’s bassist, seems to like to push the boundaries of the jazz world. “I’m really tired of the stagnant music scene, where this club only hires a certain type of band and that club only hires musicians who play this genre,” he said.
For a decade, Garrison ran a performance space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, also called the ShapeShifter Lab, but it closed last year. A new location will open soon. “My new space will be a place for artists, those rejected geniuses, who otherwise would not be able to play in the city.”
Mr. Garrison, 52, lives in Park Slope with his business partner, Fortuna Sung, 51.
DARK AND QUIET The weather has been irregular after the pandemic. It sounds horrible, but sometimes I wake up as early as 4 am and take a lot of work off myself. I code for my apps, including Tunebend, and organize things on my computer for a few hours because everyone is asleep. There is no one around to call, text, or bother you.
NAP WITH CAFFEINE I could have some coffee and a light breakfast. I have a weird relationship with coffee these days. Doesn’t keep me awake. Now I use coffee as a sleep aid. I don’t know how that works. So after working for a few hours and having some coffee, I often go back to sleep.
WORK WEEKEND I wake up again around 9 or 10 in the morning and have another cup of coffee. The music industry is a 24 hour thing. I communicate with people in Europe and Japan all the time, so my weekends don’t count as a day off. I have to distribute my work hours and dedicate certain days to my three ventures to do everything. On Sundays I try to do the things I couldn’t do during the week. But I make a mess if I do too many tasks at once.
STEPS Then I could compose for several hours. Or I go for a walk in Prospect Park or weave through the neighborhood streets. Sometimes I venture out to Gowanus and Carroll Gardens. Fortune says I’m walking too fast, but I need to get my heart rate up. My body tells me I need it.
SONG LAYERS I listen to music at Tunebend as I walk. I listen to see how all the bits and pieces that were recorded can be layered into a song. You can swap different performers for the same part, so I listen and rearrange a lot. But I’m also interacting with the app as a user to see if anything needs to be changed. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but that’s how I decompress.
PUT IT TOGETHER When you’re coding or composing music, you’re solving problems. You are in continuous investigation mode to find out why something is done in a particular way. In the world of jazz, there are so many things you need to know and be able to play in a split second. In coding, you also have to remember all these bits and pieces to build something. The only difference between the two worlds is the pay!
NEW SPACE I finally got the keys to a new performance space that we are opening at the end of the year. So far I’ve done a live streaming workshop on how to use the Tunebend app, but I’m getting ready to raise funds so we can put on shows and events for all kinds of musicians here.
SUPPORT We run our errands in the neighborhood, including groceries from the Park Slope Food Cooperative. Fortuna, whose family is from Hong Kong, is the best cook. Her artist parents also owned and operated a restaurant, so she knows her way around the kitchen. When we eat out, it can be Japanese or Thai. Today we have dinner with my mom in Littleneck.
OLD TIME After dinner, I will watch TV or read. I focus on the news – there are so many things to keep up with, which makes me understand how I can make this world a better place. I also like tech stuff, like articles on the newest plug-ins for music software. My mom still scolds me because all my reading is done on a screen. Now I’m in old time: I’m in bed at 9 or 10 at night
Sunday Routine readers can follow Matthew Garrison on Instagram and Twitter @garrisonjazz.
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