Morgan Guerin Refines Nuances Of His Expression


Morgan Guerin is among the 25 artists DownBeat thinks will help shape jazz in the decades to come.

(Photo: Bill Douthart)

​Morgan Guerin conjures earthbound grooves and then releases them into the cosmos. At 22, the multi-instrumentalist, mixing engineer and first-call collaborator recently issued The Saga III, the final installment of an autobiographical album trilogy, having received critical acclaim for both I (2016) and II (2017). With each self-produced release, Guerin has refined nuances of his expression.

“I’m trying to create an environment of otherworldly sounds for the listener,” said the Brooklyn-based artist. “I’m influenced by Wayne Shorter and Flying Lotus—people who embrace the sounds of space.”

When he isn’t traveling as the bassist in Terri Lyne Carrington’s band Social Science, or as a synth-organ-bass-saxophone player and vocalist for Esperanza Spalding’s touring quartet, Guerin hones his production skills from a small studio inside his Crown Heights apartment.

“I can definitely do all my engineering work here,” he said. When crafting The Saga III, he played 19 instruments. With contributions from guitarist Matthew Stevens, drummer JK Kim and vocalist Safa, among other guests, the album comprises modal space-scaping, polyrhythmic-inspired sound design and ethereal lines that pair Guerin on EWI with vocalist Débo Ray.

The compositions’ galactic feel belies Guerin’s introspective personality. “I’m a pretty quiet person,” he said. “I don’t always know how to say what I wanna say with words. The album’s cosmic world is me being in my own head.”

Guerin, who considers The Saga III his mixing debut, said that one of the intentions behind the album was to establish his own unique voice as an engineer. “I want to find a mixing sound that’s personal to me,” he explained. Guerin now is challenging himself to expand the scope of his expression beyond his own music. “In 2020, it’s so hard to do something that hasn’t been done before,” he said, “but there are still a lot of opportunities. I’m trying to be that low-key, go-to guy who can make your stuff sound super colorful.” DB

This story originally was published in the November 2020 issue of DownBeat. Subscribe here.

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