P. DiPietro (All About Jazz) writes:
"In Y2K, Bass Player Magazine pronounced Matthew Garrison's debut as having "raised the bar" for electric bass players (in an article by Chris Jisi, who recently wrote the book on modern electric bass). What next, then? Fitting in this Olympic year, Garrison steps back from the bar, raises it a foot, challenges himself to make it over and succeeds on every level, turning in the greatest solo record by an electric bassist in the post-Jaco era."
"This release represents a modern-day passing of the torch. Compelling that Garrison's father played acoustic bass on what are indisputably jazz's greatest recordings - now comes Matthew demonstrating nothing less than he's the world's greatest electric bass guitarist (reality check: if there are other guys capable of playing this stuff so absolutely freakishly, none are demonstrating it on recordings). The funny thing is, this is way not the intent here."
"Sure, Garrison's debut, in spots, was attempting to show all he could do, but now it's all about the composition, the composite, the trip and the vibe. The fact that he's taken the record label out of the equation has surely aided him in feeling his way into his style in the most comfortable, organic way. Simply put, letting go has allowed him to craft one for the ages. It's a benchmark for the type of electronica that is separate from trend-jumping jazztronica hybrids and for music incorporating world influences that is separate from the "world music" bin. Most importantly, it should be held up as a shining example for the type of electric jazz-fusion of musics and styles that is separate from the technocratic, chops-driven excesses and exercises of "fusion"'s past."
"Recently, vocal jazz has been perceived to have returned to favor with artists like Norah and Jamie, the piano trio reworked by the Bad Plus and EST and the avant-garde invigorated by the talent stable locked in the Blue Series' electronica laboratory. But in terms of marketability, resonance and relevance, electric jazz remains at a crisis point-in need of a shot in the arm-a reinvention triggering a comeback of sorts. With a release of this magnitude, it's alluring to poetically posit that Garrison, a scion of jazz's fabled past, yet an outsider in the current state of the jazz business, should be the one fated to spearhead that transformation."
Bill Milkowski writes:
"Bassist Garrison, a chopsmeister of the highest order who apprenticed with the likes of Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Zawinul and John McLaughlin, keeps raising the bar as a player-composer-conceptualist. His latest offering, Shapeshifter, takes things up a notch from his auspicious self-titled debut as a leader in 2001. And while his single note facility and chordal virtuosity continue to astonish (as on "Three Tree," "Changing Paths" and the urgent drum-and-bass flavored "Life Burning"), it's his overall vision -- encompassing some of Zawinul's surging world music exotica ("Symbiosis," "Unity," "Exchange") along with nasty bits of funk ("I Told Ya So") and grunge ("I Can See You Now") as well as his masterful use of the studio as an instrument (most notably on "Mirror Image" and "Exchange") -- that most impresses here. What's more, he has a knack for writing simple, engaging melodies that stick with the listener, as in the case of "Turn Around" here. On Shapeshifter, Garrison ties all those elements together organically into one sumptuous package. No other bass player on the scene today is more accomplished on his instrument or offering as fresh a musical vision as Garrison does on this very potent sophomore outing."
Chris Jisi (Senior Contributing Editor, Bass Player Magazine) writes:
"What places Garrison firmly in the company of Jaco, Stanley, Marcus, and Wooten is his musical voice: An instantly identifiable playing style that includes mega-chops and original techniques; and a highly recognizable writing style that blurs the line between bass, other instruments, and cutting-edge technology...
"Shapeshifter" reshapes the bass landscape and places the future of the
instrument in the fertile fingers and mind of Matt Garrison... "
G. Lowe (Basstech..uk) writes:
"Shape Shifter is Matt Garrison's second debut release and what a release! Matt looks set to take his place in the history books as one of the musicians to take the electric bass to new heights for the 21st Century."
"Those who do not know Matt Garrison or have not heard his music... WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN! I was first introduced to Matt's music via John Coltrane's music. Matts father, Jimmy Garrison was the backbone to Coltrane's band for many years. Through this I found a website to Matt www.garrisonjazz.com. It was here I purchased the self titled debut album 'Matthew Garrison'. To say I was pleasantly suprised was an understatement. Here was a young musician taking bass playing to a new level. A well respected bass player who has played for such legends as John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Joe Zawinul and Herbie Hancock to name a few, Matt is in good company when it comes to doing what he does best. Recently voted Rising Star of 2004 in the Downbeat Annual Critics Poll Award, you would think Matt has a lot to live up to for a second album. When I recieved a promo copy of Shapeshifter part of me was hoping I would not be let down and the another part of me felt like a kid unwrapping a christmas present."
"In went the CD and from the very first track it blew me away and then again and again track after track. The originality is far beyond anything I expected. It still has that Matt Garrison signature feel but with plenty of solid gold bells and whistles and a definite evolution. One thing you can say about Matt's music is you can't pin it to a genre and I don't really like trying to pigeon hole other people's music, Matt Garrison's music is simply Matt Garrison."
M. Tessier writes:
"2004 release. The second studio project from one of the best bass players in the world today. Some of the musicians that played on his live DVD/CD, and his solo debut make guest appearances here. Matt's bass playing along with his compositions are clearly in a league of their own, raising the bar for bassists around the world. Here he performs in group settings as well as a few duets on this mostly instrumental, low end masterpiece."
S. Dutta writes:
"Bass trailblazer Matthew Garrison is one of the brightest stars of the new musical universe. His DNA is loaded with gifts from his father, the late Jimmy Garrison, legendary bassist who brought time and space to the music of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and other jazz luminaries. His naturally inherited gifts have been aided and abetted by years of study and the use of his own innate imagination and technical prowess to produce a voice which is uniquely his own. His skills, spirit and musical sensibilities have made him an in-demand musician who has played major roles in the music of the bands of John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul and, most recently, Herbie Hancock and Gary Husband. But, Matt is really making his mark as a leader of bass recordings that may change the face of his instrument."
L. Pickford (Jazzreview.com) writes:
"Matt Garrison and I have been friends since our days back at the Berklee College of Music in the late 80's and early 90's. Since then Matt has become one the foremost exponents of the electric bass playing with greats such as Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, and many others. He has brought the bass storming into the 21st century with his incredible technique but more importantly his musicality and sublime melodic sensibility.
When people see or hear Matthew for the first time they are often blown away by his uncanny speed and unorthodox technique, but like Jaco and all great musicians on any instrument, it is NOT the technique that makes their music compelling and worth listening to, it is the heart, the ineffable soul in what they play, that makes their music last and remain fresh even years after it's been recorded.
On this second outing by Matt he of course displays his awesome technique, but what I really enjoyed knowing Matt as long as I have, is that he is starting to come into his own as a composer. He incorporates electronica but tastefully so and combines with elements of funk, fusion, Indian music, and jazz. He is beginning to have a signature compositional style, which is crucial no matter how great of an instrumentalist one becomes.
My advice to anyone who listens to a Matthew Garrison CD is be impressed by his facility, but don't let that overshadow his music which is the real star of everything Matt does."
M. Flynn (TalkBass.com) writes:
"Emerging as one of today's most striking and original virtuoso bassists, Matthew Garrison was born with some heavy jazz lineage in his genes, due to his father Jimmy's lengthy stint as John Coltrane's bass player. Despite this Matt has found his own voice among the hordes of technically and musically advanced bass guitarists, in part due to his own hybrid picking techniques, distinctive sound, and harmonic approach, but also as a solo artist willing to push the boundaries of jazz traditions, and a willingness to fuse a myriad of musical strands to create his own polymorphous sound universe.
His self-titled debut solo album was a tour de force of his mastery of both his instrument and music as a whole, and came after years absorbing the musical language with luminaries such as Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Joni Mitchell and Steve Coleman - all shaping Garrison Jr. into a lean mean bass machine. Now Matt returns with a new solo outing that finds him extending the ideas of his first solo record, while mastering the full potential of his home studio recording set up. The result is 'Shapeshifter': a dramatic, worldly, poetic and deeply musical album that fuses the world-jazz of Zawinul and Weather Report with modern electronica and stunning live performances, creating an edgy environment where he can let his imagination and his fingers run wild and free. He has also simultaneously released a stunning live DVD and CD of him performing songs from both albums in an up close and personal setting of a New York studio, in front of a small invite-only crowd.
Garrison is still only 34 with years of playing ahead of him, and it's his rebellious and passionate approach that fuels much of his thoughts and feelings on music and life in general, as he has also embraced the possibilities of our modern switched on, plugged in, download age, running his own self-sufficient, mainly web based label."