697

Matt Jorgensen: Seattle's New Sound

Franz A. Matzner By

Sign in to view read count
Originally from Seattle, drummer, composer, and bandleader Matt Jorgensen began pursuing music relatively late. After only a few years of study during college, he picked up and left home to throw himself into the New York jazz scene. Now, ten years later, he’s formed a critically acclaimed ensemble, released his fourth album, and is co-owner of his own label, Origin Records.

A young player expanding the sound of jazz with his distinctive compositions and sound, Mr. Jorgensen has a lot to say—both with his music, and otherwise.



All About Jazz: Before we get into the record label and your new album, I want to talk a little about how you got started in all this. If I understand correctly, you hadn’t really studied much music before college, is that correct?

Matt Jorgensen: I started studying jazz the summer between high school and college. My dad signed me up for a big band class at Shoreline Community College. The big band director there was Jeff Sizer, who probably changed my life. Basically, I learned how to play big band drums in like a couple of weeks. Just scrambling to get ready for the class. I took the class and really dug it. Then I ended up going to that school for two years. It was kind of being thrown right into the fire. I went to Shoreline College for two years. Then, a friend of mine there ended up going to the New School, so I followed him to New York. I moved to New York when I was nineteen and just hung around for ten years.

AAJ: Had you played other instruments before that?

MJ: I played piano when I was a kid, but I never really stuck to it. That was pretty much it. I’d always wanted to play drums, so I started like my freshmen year in college. My very first teacher was John Bishop, who I’ve known now for half my life. He’s the other co-owner of Origin records. He started Origin Records in ’97. I was very fortunate at an early age to have all these people. To meet John, to be involved at Shoreline Community College. I think if it had gone any other way, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

AAJ: When did you make the turn to do this professionally?

MJ: It’s kinda funny. Somebody asked me that the other day, and thinking about it, I don’t really remember. It was just this thing. I was going to school in Seattle, and I just stopped doing other stuff besides music. I started taking music classes. Then I moved to New York and it was just something I did.

AAJ: So there was no late night, early in the morning moment of truth?

MJ: No. Not really. Years later there probably was. ‘Cause it was totally different from what I envisioned growing up. Basically, I moved to New York and I didn’t have anything to do. I didn’t have a job. I had a little bit of money. If you asked me know at age thirty-one to move to New York with no job, no money, and no place to live I probably would not do it. There [was] a lot of ignorant youth-bliss involved.

AAJ: Seems to produce a lot of things, that youthful naiveté.

MJ: Yeah. It was a great time. I moved in ’92. It was an amazing time. I think it was the beginning of the jazz renaissance. There were a lot of places to play in the East Village. I remember seeing Bill Stewart, Larry Goldings down at the Village Gate. Brad Mehldau was at the New School when I got there. He was just graduating. He would play around. I remember when it was a big deal when he first got hired by Josh Redman. Actually, I saw Josh Redman the second day I got to New York.

AAJ: There seemed to be a lot of energy going on all over the country at that time musically.

MJ: At that time, yeah.

AAJ: How did the Seattle musical environment effect you as you were growing up?

MJ: It was a really good place to grow up. The whole Seattle music scene hadn’t really broken when I left. It was right when I was leaving. But I think part of the reason the Rock thing took of is that Seattle is pretty isolated. We’re not really touched by a lot of—we’re far enough from L.A. and everyone else that we kind of do things on our own up here. You have a lot of people checking out a lot of different music, and doing a lot of differenent music. When I grew up people would—you would go and see the Ray Brown Trio and then the next night you’d go and see Charles Gale at the O.K. Hotel, this club. You’d check out widely different things. We’re a big enough city that nationally known people were coming around town, and also growing up a lot of my friends we’d just play all kinds of music. It’s a very eclectic bunch of guys, quite a scene. I think that lends itself even to the professional community. You’d have a lot of New York guys that would settle here—that fled New York.

Shop

More Articles

Read Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world Interviews Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Tim Bowness: Ghost Lights and Life Sentences Interviews Tim Bowness: Ghost Lights and Life Sentences
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Laura Jurd: Big Footprints Interviews Laura Jurd: Big Footprints
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Rick Mandyck: The Return From Now Interviews Rick Mandyck: The Return From Now
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 3, 2017
Read The Wee Trio: Full of Surprises Interviews The Wee Trio: Full of Surprises
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Peter Erskine: Paging Dr. Um" Interviews Peter Erskine: Paging Dr. Um
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "How to Listen to Jazz: A Q&A with Ted Gioia" Interviews How to Listen to Jazz: A Q&A with Ted Gioia
by Steve Provizer
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "Nat Hentoff: The Never-Ending Ball" Interviews Nat Hentoff: The Never-Ending Ball
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "D'Vonne Lewis: It's About the Love" Interviews D'Vonne Lewis: It's About the Love
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "Russell Malone: Guitar Master" Interviews Russell Malone: Guitar Master
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world" Interviews Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: February 24, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!