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Chris Tarry: New Challenges, New Influences, New York

By Published: December 17, 2007
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Moving to New York: a Good Idea? and Metalwood: Definitely Dead?

AAJ: So you moved to New York from Vancouver in 2003. That was an inherently risky, scary thing to do. Was it scary? How has it changed your life as a musician?

CT: Well, it was totally scary, although it was exciting at the same time. I had sort of reached a point in my life where I was pretty much free and clear to move and do whatever I wanted. I also felt that in Canada I was reaching a point where I was getting—well, not bored with music, but I was wanting some different challenges. And you can't go anywhere where the challenges are more apparent, both in day-to-day life and musically, than New York.


You know, I came here and things started happening fairly quickly. But then they slowed down a bit after the first six months, and I had a hard period for about six months. The second half of the first year was definitely really hard. I almost didn't make it—and I started wanting to go back. I'd left a really, really great career—one of the best bass careers in the country. And to come here, where nobody really gives a shit [laughing] was a big eye-opener.

But it made me a much better player—a much more well-rounded player, a more listening player. I hope that's still going on. And that really came from the fact that I play so many more styles since I moved here than I ever did in Canada. In Canada, I was pretty much known for doing my thing, and if you wanted me, you got me—which a lot of people did. And some people still do, but I think I've made myself a much better sideman. That's a whole life-long study, and I've focused a lot more on it since I moved here.

AAJ: Well, it might be nice not to be that Chris-Tarry-style bassist that they knew you as in Canada. Then they just go to you for that sound.

CT: Exactly. And I realized that that Chris-Tarry-style bassist had a lot more room to grow as a bassist!

AAJ: If you ever run into him, you can tell him so.

CT: Oh, yeah. I sort of feel, "Ooh, so glad I didn't end up like that guy. And that's what I try to tell a lot of students that come to New York and study with me. A lot of them are pretty surprised that Chris Tarry doesn't do a lot of Chris-Tarry-type things these days—he's concentrating on playing some other kinds of stuff.

Some people, especially ones who were big Metalwood fans, ask me, "How do you make a living playing fusion? That's an easy question. You don't! And why would you want to?

AAJ: I'm sure every week is different, but what's a week like for you in New York? How many gigs do you play?

CT: Oh, it depends. Some days I'm up to four gigs a day, with studio sessions and other things. Sometimes I'll have three or four days off. But mostly I do about seven or eight gigs a week, which is pretty damn good. I feel pretty lucky. I just try to put myself out there, and if there's a situation I want to improve in—like a certain kind of music—I'll actively go out and search for things to do and people to play with in that genre, just to get better and learn and get some experience.

And that all influences my writing, and the way I approach music with my band, playing jazz.

Chris TarryAAJ: It doesn't sound like you regret moving to New York.

CT: I don't. I'm really happy here. And I live by the Williamsburg Bridge, and I still walk over the bridge and think, "I'm this small-town Canadian guy from the stix. Wow! How did I get here? I'm still pretty excited.

AAJ: Is Metalwood definitively and officially over?

CT: You know what? I have to say that it's not definitively and officially over. I mean, we're still playing. We do some gigs. And now that the major-label thing has disappeared, there has been some e-mail chatter amongst the various members about doing another record—just to do it and have fun. I think it would be fun. It was such a great band and had such a long run. Like you said, bands in jazz just aren't that common. So it was a real band that had a real following and a real sound, and we did it all. It was really exciting, and we still get together and play once in a while. We play about once a year, I think. So it's not totally dead. It's dead, but not completely dead [laughing]. I think if you held a mirror up to its nose, it would at least fog up.

Selected Discography

Chris Tarry Group, Almost Certainly Dreaming (Nineteen Eight, 2007)
Chris Tarry Group, Sorry to Be Strange (Cellar Live, 2006)
Leah Siegel, Little Mule (Self-published, 2006)
Chris Tarry, Chris Tarry's Project 33 (Black Hen, 2003)
Metalwood, Chronic (Verve, 2003)
3 Sisters, Village (Romhog, 2003)
Metalwood, The Recline (Telarc International, 2001)
Chris Tarry, Of Battles Unknown Mysteries (Maximum Jazz, 2001)
Barry Romberg, Random Access Part 1 (Romhog, 2001)
Metalwood, Metalwood 3 (Maximum Jazz, 2000)
Zubot and Dawson, Tractor Parts (Black Hen, 2000)
Metalwood, Live (Maximum Jazz, 1999)
Peggy Lee Band, Peggy Lee Band (Spool, 1999)
Chris Tarry, Dylan van der Schyff, Sponge (Spool, 1998)
Metalwood, Metalwood 2 (Maximum Music, 1998)
Chris Tarry, Sevyn (Maximum Jazz, 1997)
Metalwood, Metalwood (Maximum/Universal, 1997)
Chris Tarry, Unition (Maximum Jazz, 1996)
Chris Tarry, Groups Project (Maximum Jazz, 1995)
Chris Tarry, Landscapes (Maximum Jazz, 1992)

Photo Credits
Top Photo: Steve Mynett
Second Photo: Diana Piruzevska
Bottom Photo: Courtesy of Chris Tarry on MySpace

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