We caught up with bassist-composer Matt Brewer on the first day of his two-week composer’s residency at The Jazz Gallery. Matt is among the four artists chosen for our “Leading From the Bass” initiative, which supports and spotlights the work of bassist-composers. Matt’s residency, which made possible by major support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, will last two weeks and culminate with a performance on February 10th.
Although he had only been at The Gallery for a few hours, Matt was excited to have time to develop work away from his heavy performance schedule:
I haven’t really had a break since the beginning of October; I’ve been on tour pretty much since then, and I haven’t had a week at home since October 3rd, so I haven’t had a lot of time to write a bunch of music or sit down at the piano. So, already today, after just a couple of hours of being here and playing piano, I’ve written more than I’ve written in the past four or five months, so that’s pretty exciting.
Matt also expressed a gratitude for having proper working conditions: a quiet space with a grand piano (and no fear of disturbing the neighbors):
The main thing is that there’s a grand piano in here, and that’s so much more inspiring for me to write on! [Usually] I’m at home and I have my little keyboard, and I’m just [thinking], “Ugh, I don’t want to play”…the sound doesn’t inspire me to write. And, you know, it sounds good in here. It’s also nice to know that I don’t have to worry about my neighbors hearing me. Just being in a quiet space with a good piano feels so much more comfortable. I get nervous even practicing bass at home!
While this was only the first day of his residency (Matt will have use of our space during “dark hours” for the next two weeks), Matt seemed to already have a clear idea of what he planned to use the time for. He plans to write new work, which will most likely feature piano, saxophone, guitar, bass, and drums, with the possible addition of an extra saxophone or guitar. He explained:
When I write on the piano…I started out playing this Mozart fantasy, and I [also] like to sight read Bach chorales, and almost inevitably in the middle of that process my mind will start wandering. And then I’ll start coming up with something, and [I’ll realize], “Oh wait, okay, now I’m writing music!”, and then I’ll leave the chorale practicing behind. So I think that’s how this started: I was thinking about counterpoint and that stuff, and then these three voices emerged.
We’ll check in with Matt again as his residency continues…stay tuned for more details!