Jazz bassist Matthew Garrison doesn’t like to slow down. “I always think, do,” he said.
As a performer he has toured with Herbie Hancock and as a producer he helps organize upcoming shows with pianist Jason Moran, drummer Jack DeJohnette and others. However, most days he focuses on producing music events ShapeShifter Lab and his charitable arm, ShapeShifter Plus. He also created the app tune bandthat facilitates virtual collaboration and recording among musicians.
Mister. Garrison, the son of Jimmy Garrison, John Coltrane’s bassist, seems to like pushing boundaries in the jazz world. “I’m really sick of the stagnant music scene where this club only books a certain type of band and this club only books musicians who play that genre,” he said.
For a decade Mr. Garrison ran a venue in Gowanus, Brooklyn, also called the ShapeShifter Lab, but it closed last year. Soon he will open a new venue. “My new space will be a place for performers, those brilliant outcasts who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play in the city.”
Mister. Garrison, 52, lives in Park Slope with his business partner Fortuna Sung, 51.
DARK AND CALM After the pandemic, times were shaky. It sounds terrible, but sometimes I wake up as early as 4am and get a lot of work out of the way. I code for my apps including Tunebend and organize things on my computer for a few hours because everyone is sleeping. There is no one around to call, text or annoy you.
Caffeinated nap I could have a coffee and a light breakfast. I have a strange relationship with coffee these days. It doesn’t keep me awake I now use coffee as a sleep aid. I do not know how that works. So after a few hours of work and a coffee, I often fall asleep again.
WORK WEEKEND I wake up again around 9 or 10 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 days off. I have to split my work hours and devote certain days to my three ventures to get everything done. On Sundays I try to do the things I couldn’t do during the week. But I make a mess when I multitask too much.
STEPS Then I might compose for several hours. Or I go for a walk in Prospect Park or zigzag through the neighborhood streets. Sometimes I venture out into Gowanus and Carroll Gardens. Fortune says I’m going too fast, but I need to get my heart rate up. My body is telling me I need it.
SONG LAYERS I listen to music on Tunebend while I walk. I listen to see how all the recorded bits and pieces can become layers in a song. They can swap out different performers for the same part, so I have to do a lot of listening and rearranging. But I also interact with the app as a user to see if anything needs tweaking. I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is how I decompress.
PUT TOGETHER When you program or compose music, you solve problems. You are in a continuous research mode to find out why something is done a certain way. There is so much in the jazz world that you need to know and be able to play in a split second. When coding, you also have to remember all those little things in order to build something. The only difference between the two worlds is the pay!
NEW ROOM I finally got the keys to a new function room that we will be opening by the end of the year. So far I’ve been doing a livestream workshop on how to use the Tunebend app, but I’m preparing for a ton of donations so we can host shows and events here for all types of musicians.
STOP We run our errands in the neighborhood including shopping from there Park Slope Food Co-op. Fortuna, whose family is from Hong Kong, is the better cook. Her artist parents also owned and operated a restaurant, so she knows her way around a kitchen. When we eat out it could be Japanese or Thai. Today we went to dinner with my mother small neck.
OLD PEOPLE TIME After dinner I watch TV or read. I’m news centric: there are so many things I need to keep up to date with, which gives me an understanding of how to make this world a better place. I also like technical stuff, like articles on the latest music software plug-ins. My mother still scolds me for reading everything on a screen. Now I’m on senior time: I’m in bed by 9 or 10 p.m
Sunday Routine readers can follow Matthew Garrison on Instagram and Twitter @garrisonjazz.