Jazz musician Matthew Garrison doesn’t like to slow down. “I always think, I do,” he said.
As a performer, he toured with Herbie Hancock, and as a producer, he helps organize upcoming shows with pianist Jason Moran, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and others. But most days, he focuses on producing music events through Shapeshifter Lab and its non-profit arm, ShapeShifter Plus. He also created the app Tunebendfacilitating virtual collaboration and recording between musicians.
Mr. Garrison, the son of bassist Jimmy Garrison to John Coltrane, seems to like to push boundaries in the jazz world. “I’m really tired of the stagnant music scene, where this club only books a certain type of band, and this club only books musicians who play that kind,” he said.
For a decade, Mr. Garrison ran a performance space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, also called ShapeShifter Lab, but it closed last year. Soon a new place will open. “My new space will be a place for the performers, those rejected geniuses, who wouldn’t be able to play in the city otherwise.”
Mr. Garrison, 52, lives in Park Slope with his business partner, Fortuna Song, 51.
dark and quiet Time has been shaky after the pandemic. It sounds horrible, but sometimes I get up early at 4 in the morning and get a lot of work out of the way. I code my apps, including Tunebend, and organize things on my PC for a few hours because everyone is asleep. No one is calling, texting, or harassing you.
cafe nap I might have some coffee and a light breakfast. I have a strange relationship with coffee these days. Doesn’t keep me awake. I now use coffee as a sleep aid. I don’t know how this works. So after I work out for a few hours and drink some coffee, I often fall back to sleep.
weekend I get up again around 9 or 10 in the morning and have another cup of coffee. The music industry operates 24 hours a day. I communicate with people in Europe and Japan all the time, so weekends are never a day off. I have to divide my hours and set aside certain days for my three projects to get everything done. On Sundays, I try to get to the things I can’t do on weekdays. But I will make a mess if I multitask too much.
steps Then I might compose for several hours. Or go for a walk in Prospect Park or meander the neighborhood streets. Sometimes I go out to Gowanus and Carroll Gardens. Fortuna says I am walking very fast, but I need to raise my heart rate. My body tells me I need it.
Layers of songs I listen to music on Tunebend while walking. I listen to see how all the bits and pieces that were recorded could become layers in the song. You can swap out different performers for the same part, so I do a lot of listening and reordering. But I also interact with the app as a user to see if anything needs to be modified. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but this is how I decompress.
cut it together When you code or compose music, you solve problems. You are in constant search of why something is done a certain way. In the world of jazz, there is a lot that you should know and be able to play in a split second. In programming, 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’ll be opening by the end of the year. So far I’ve done a live-streaming workshop on how to use the Tunebend app, but I’m preparing to raise money so we can offer shows and events for all kinds of musicians here.
comfort We get our errands done in the neighborhood, including groceries from Park Slope Food Association. Fortuna, whose family hails from Hong Kong, is the best cook. Her artist parents owned and operated a restaurant, so she knows her way around the kitchen. When we eat out, it might be Japanese or Thai. Today we had dinner with my mom in littlelink.
old people After dinner, I’ll watch TV or read. I focus on the news: there is so much to keep up with, which makes me understand how I can make this world a better place. I also like the technical stuff, like the articles about the latest music software plug-ins. My mom still scolds me because all my reading is done on the screen. Now I’m in seniors’ time: I’m in bed by 9 or 10 p.m.
Sunday routine readers can follow Matthew Garrison on Instagram and Twitter @garrisonjazz.
“Infuriatingly humble music trailblazer. Gamer. Food enthusiast. Beeraholic. Zombie guru.”