The New Mexico Jazz Festival
Bassist Matt Brewer comes home to open the fourth annual festival
A prophet may have no honor in his own country, but a bassist is a different story. Matt Brewer, who spent his formative years here but now resides in New York City, has the honor of opening the Albuquerque end of the 2009 New Mexico Jazz Festival at the Outpost Performance Space, and he’s bringing players who are helping to shape a new generation of jazz.
The 26-year-old phenom has spent the last few years traveling the globe to play with some of the world’s most accomplished jazz artists: Greg Osby, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Greg Tardy, Chris Cheek, Mark Turner and Jeff “Tain” Watts. In the weeks before his appearance here, he worked in Jerusalem, Boston, Charleston, Saratoga Springs, Montreal, Paris and Vienna.
He’ll finally get a chance to crash at his own pad in early August when he heads back to New York to play the Vanguard with Greg Osby. “Upon first meeting and playing with Matt, I immediately recognized that he possessed exceptional ability, far beyond that of any bassist I had previously used,” says Osby in an e-mail exchange with the Alibi. “He would internalize even the most conceptual qualities and characteristics of my music and interpreted each piece masterfully with a great amount of creativity and vigor. It was my good fortune to have had him in the band for six years.”
Albuquerque will have the good fortune to hear the Matt Brewer Quartet featuring Aaron Parks (piano), with Ila Cantor (guitar) and Tommy Crane (drums) this Thursday.
Brewer’s quartet includes players with whom he’s developed close working relationships during his time in New York and whose original sound has kept them all busy.
Parks, who released his Blue Note Records debut, Invisible Cinema, last year, has been a friend for 10 years. Brewer notes “his beautiful sound on the instrument,” a “patience and intelligence” beyond his years and musical influences that are as broad as Brewer’s.
Cantor “is a great guitarist,” he says. “She’s one of the only people of her generation that’s avoided the overwhelming influence of [guitarist] Kurt Rosenwinkel. She’s come up with something really original, especially compositionally.”
Brewer’s compositions reveal a deep sense of groove, a strongly romantic nature and a searching musical mind.
Crane, the drummer with whom Brewer has played the most since moving to New York, “has a really broad palette in terms of the music he listens to. ... He’s a really great overall musician and composer, too.”
Brewer’s compositions reveal a deep sense of groove, a strongly romantic nature and a searching musical mind. “I feel constantly stuck between trying to advance my understanding of music but then also just wanting to have melodies that are really beautiful,” he says. “The rhythmic thing comes from the way I think about the bass. To me, you can think of it as a drum, the way you play rhythmically, but it also has this capability to be incredibly melodic or hornlike.”
The evening will feature his compositions as well as works by Parks and Cantor, all of which reflect diverse influences. “As it’s always done, [jazz] is just incorporating more and more of what is around it,” he says, citing pop bands, electronic music, world music and more.
Maybe Brewer’s awareness of new possibilities is what pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba refers to in an e-mail to the Alibi:.“Matt Brewer is exquisite, refined and a visionary. In him is enclosed a grand instrumentalist and a composer with an enormous potential,” Rubalcaba says. “Matt is of the new musicians [who] although they have been formed through a jazz language, [are] constantly in search and learning of other tendencies and musical paths.”
Brewer’s looking forward to hanging in New Mexico for a while, doing some camping and hiking, but he’s particularly excited to be at the Outpost.
“All the musicians I know in New York that have played there, everybody seems to have a good feeling about being there,” he says. “I love coming back to the Outpost and New Mexico in general.”