Matthew Garrison's three recent releases embody a striking, quite personalized approach to the electric bass. Shapeshifter (GJP) dips into electronica, smooth jazz and funk while billboarding Garrison's production and studio expertise. He utilizes computer technology to create waves and layers of thick, deep bass lines while also playing keyboards and guitar and adding vocals. But though some tracks like "I Told Ya So," "Changing Paths" or "Three Tree" are mainly quick burst fare or light material, Garrison shows on such longer pieces as "Symbiosis," "Exchange" or "I Can See You Know" that he's a fantastic player. Since he's so adept at crafting dazzling, high-octane phrases and executing amazing solos, it can be frustrating to hear his mellow, less musically urgent numbers. However, there's enough hard-edged work on Shapeshifter to solidify the bassist's credentials as a prominent improviser.
Garrison really displays his complete capabilities on Matt Garrison Live (GJP), a combination CD/DVD package. The audio portion is good, but the DVD is the most exciting as Garrison's solo and charismatic leadership skills can be better appreciated when seen. Guitarist Adam Rogers supplies bristling energy, keyboardists Scott Kinsey (Tribal Tech) and Jim Beard bring the funk and pop influence, vocalist Sabina Sciubba adds soul and sensuality and Arto Tuncboyaciyan shakes everything up rhythmically. Standouts include "Family," "Shapeless," "Duet 9/4" and "Groove Tune."