Matt Garrison and I have been friends since our days back at the Berklee College of Music in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Since then Matt has become one the foremost exponents of the electric bass playing with greats such as Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, and many others. He has brought the bass storming into the 21st century with his incredible technique but more importantly his musicality and sublime melodic sensibility.
When people see or hear Matthew for the first time they are often blown away by his uncanny speed and unorthodox technique, but like Jaco and all great musicians on any instrument, it is NOT the technique that makes their music compelling and worth listening to, it is the heart, the ineffable soul in what they play, that makes their music last and remain fresh even years after it’s been recorded.
On this second outing by Matt he of course displays his awesome technique, but what I really enjoyed knowing Matt as long as I have, is that he is starting to come into his own as a composer. He incorporates electronica but tastefully so and combines with elements of funk, fusion, Indian music, and jazz. He is beginning to have a signature compositional style, which is crucial no matter how great of an instrumentalist one becomes.
On track 3 "I Told Ya So" Matt lays down a Headhunter’s like funk groove of serious proportions with tasty comping on his signature 5 string bass tuned with a high C string all the while laying down a down right nasty bass part and then proceeds to solo on top of it all showing that the bass is the hands of great players like Matt can do it all. On track 4 "Three Tree" Matt moves through shifting chordal passages with brilliant percussionist Arto Tuncboyacian an alumni like Matt of the Joe Zawinul Syndicate. Track 5 "I Can See You Now" has an angular funk groove and is graced by the amazing playing of Tribal Tech keyboard player Scott Kinsey.
Track 7 "Life Burning" has a killer groove laid down by Drum and Bass master Jojo Mayer on drums and is filled with Matt’s complex lines and post Weather Report like harmonies with a strong Indian flavor. Track 9 "Exchange" is another stand out track. Matt’s Jaco like bassline laid down over the haunting vocals Veronika Garrison with echoes of Zawinul-esque keyboard sounds.All in all this is a terrific CD and Matthew continues to blaze trails and take the bass and his music into uncharted waters. He is not afraid to experiment with electronica, stop on a dime rhythmic patterns, and expansive harmonic structures.
My advice to anyone who listens to a Matthew Garrison CD is be impressed by his facility, but don’t let that overshadow his music which is the real star of everything Matt does.
Review By Lucas Pickford - http://www.lucaspickford.com