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Mario's Interview of the Month with Matthew Von Doran
Godin Glissentar

We first met Matthew Von Doran at the NAMM show in California. He had heard about our Godin Glissentar (11 string fretless nylon guitar) and wanted to check it out for himself. From the moment he started playing it he drew a crowd.

After years of studio sessions as well as playing in the Don Miller Big Band, Matthew Von Doran has stepped out on his own with his debut solo CD entitled In This Present Moment. In This Present Moment blends Jazz and Blues and Matthew makes it all his own. The CD has been riding high on the Jazz charts ever since it’s release, proving once again that when you’ve got strong songs people will take notice.

I recently called Matthew to thank his wife Sandra for the amazing cookies she baked for the Godin staff (just as we were fading away at another NAMM show tear down) and as usual we started talking shop. We don’t have any cookies to share but we still hope you enjoy the interview.


Mario : Congratulations on your CD. The reviews have been great right out of the gate, 4 and 5 star reviews, radio airplay and the CD is steadily climbing up the Jazz charts. It's a real inspiration to independent artists everywhere. What can you tell us about the whole process?

Matthew : Thank you, very much. It’s very consuming! Being an independent artist, I’m pretty much in charge of everything. I mean, just imagine all the different departments a record label has working to get a CD made, distributed, and marketed. However, I’m not exactly flying solo since I do have tremendous help from a great team made up of my manager, my publicist & 2 radio promoters. Plus, I have a distribution company getting my CD out into the stores.

So I don’t know if you can call me independent. But, that being said, everything is being done under my own record label, B Cat Records, and I oversee every little detail.
I’d have to say that the recording of the record was the easiest part- 6 days of tracking & 6 days of mixing. Now, most of my time is spent with the promotion end of things.
This is a new and exciting era for the independent artist- the internet has opened up the whole world so anyone with lots of determination (& tons of time!) can get pretty far. It might already be at the point where it’s actually a disadvantage to be signed to a label.

Mario : I read many of the great reviews you've been getting on the CD In This Present Moment. Has it caught you by surprise?

Matthew : Well, nobody’s more blown away by this than myself! The biggest surprise has been the positive response to the compositions. You see, I just started seriously writing a couple of years ago. This is my first record.
I’ve been a sideman my whole life, playing in a variety of bands, so this was a typical case of “finally getting to do my own thing”. But I’m not sure I knew what my own thing was! I now feel the songs represent an amalgamation of all my influences in the jazz/fusion realm. So I’m very pleased this collection of tunes is so well received. I want people to enjoy the music. That’s the whole idea.

Mario : How did you go about writing and arranging? Did the songs change much once you started recording?

Matthew : For me, writing music is a balanced process of inspiration & contrivance. Sometimes a motif would come to me from “out of nothing”, (which is what the title of my tune Ex Nihilo means in Latin) and sometimes I’d be more intentional. I’d sit down and think
“I want to write a manic bebop head”. To create the whole composition, I would usually start with a central idea for a section and develop it into some kind of cohesive entity, then repeat that process with another idea. Then I had to figure out how to put them together! Sometimes it flowed, sometimes it was square peg-round hole time. And the whole thing could take a few days or a few months. Actually, the ballad, Somewhere Before was based on some chords I threw together many years ago- then I came up with a melody just recently. And then Critical Mass was written in a couple of hours just a few days before the recording sessions.
Some of the arrangements did change during the sessions. That’s pretty typical of the recording process. I’d been playing these tunes in my trio (with bass and drums) so having the new setting of these different instrument combinations naturally led to some reshaping.

Mario : You have an incredible group of musicians playing on the CD and Jimmy Haslip produced it. How did that come about?

Matthew : My friend, Roger Burn (who plays vibes on the CD) introduced me to Jimmy. Jimmy had produced Roger’s first record, The Last Farewell. I had told Roger that I was thinking about finally doing my own record and he thought that Jimmy & I would be a great match. Jimmy is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. He is incredible as a producer & is also a very warm human being. He really knows how to get the best out of everyone & he has this monk-like transforming effect on you. And Jimmy was completely responsible for the lineup. He knows everybody!
As you can imagine, it was a wonderful experience for me to get to play with all these musicians that were on all the records I’ve grown up with! Peter Erskine was especially amazing. He read through my charts and sounded like he had been playing them on tour for months. As a matter of fact, every player on the recording didn’t see the music until the day of the session. And then, they nailed the stuff!

Also, having a record with all “ringers” certainly has made a tremendous contribution to the success of the CD. I was pretty much an unknown guitar player so hooking me up with the big name players was intentional. But the bottom line is that they made my music sound as wonderful as it could. It was an amazing experience!

Mario : I was happy to hear that you used a Godin Glissentar on the song "Trick". How did you like recording with that instrument?

Matthew : I’m still waiting for the frets to show up in the mail! Just kidding.
That guitar is amazing! It’s very easy to play- I got used to it very quickly. I wrote that song specifically for the Glissentar . It recorded very well. We ran it through an acoustic guitar amp and that was it. When I use it live, it completely blows everyone away! It so unique, plus I’m playing funky bebop kind of stuff on it, so that’s not what one might expect from an instrument that was designed off an oud.

Mario : You also started using a Multiac Grand Concert after a bunch of us from Godin ganged up on you at your gig at last year at the NAMM show.

Matthew : Yeah, you guys were teasing me at that gig about my “other brand” stage nylon guitar. But, boy, am I glad you did! The next day, when you let me play all the models back at the Godin booth, I could tell the difference right away. There is so much more depth and character to my Grand Concert than any acoustic I’ve ever had. It sounds & feels like a full body instrument.

Mario : What are your plans for the summer, touring, writing etc...

Matthew : Touring is the next step. I’m working right now on making all the necessary contacts to put something together. I’m also in the process of setting up distribution in Canada so maybe I’ll get to play in your nick of the woods soon. That would be a blast.
You know, my mom’s Canadian so I’ve got an “in”.

Mario : What got you into guitar, who influenced you then, and whom are you listening to now?

Matthew : I had a very typical jazz guitar background in that I actually started as a rock player. I then discovered John McLaughlin, Al Dimeola, Larry Carlton, the Yellowjackets & Weather Report and the like. That then led to me checking out the earlier legends- Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and many others. I went to college & received my music degree and then I enrolled in the Guitar Institute of Technology (now The Musician’s Institute) in Hollywood, California. I’ve played professionally ever since. But I’m just now pursuing a career as an original jazz artist.
My influences are also fairly typical- Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, & Scott Henderson, to name a few. I also really like Wayne Krantz, Kurt Rosenweinkel, & Wayne Johnson. But I love all kinds of music- the more esoteric, the better. Actually, these days I don’t listen to as many guitar players. I like to transcribe sax & piano solos.

*Mario Biferali is a Product Specialist at Godin Guitars.




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