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.
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.
is a Product Specialist at Godin Guitars.