Twin musicians meet their jazz destiny
San Diego-bred jazz duo The Mattson 2 came by their musical roots honestly.
Twin sons of parents who met at art school in the ‘60s, Jared (guitar) and Jonathan (drums) Mattson grew up in a creative home. While constantly surrounded by art, music also played a big role in their formative years.
Their father, who tended to reach for classical albums at the house, switched to jazz when he started driving his boys to the beach for surfing excursions. Fans of punk rock, the brothers weren’t ready to switch allegiance at the time - but the groundwork was laid.
When the siblings’ rock originals didn’t even make the first cut at La Costa Canyon High School’s battle of the bands, the pair decided to make a change.
This serendipitously coincided with two major events for the two - their discovery of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” album, and finding out their father did light shows at San Diego’s long-defunct Hippodrome for iconic bands like The Velvet Underground and Grateful Dead.
“We heard that one day from our older brother Micah,” Jared told DiscoverSD by phone from his home in Costa Mesa. “It just really gave us another impression of our dad. And to us, it gave substance to his musical side.”
The seemingly perfect storm pushing them toward jazz ended up doing exactly that.
“We made a deal,” Jared said. “The next year at battle of the bands, we decided to just do jazz. It had amazing energy. There was an edge to it. And we thought it’d be punk rock to play jazz. We ended up winning first place.”
Bolstered by success, the brothers never again questioned their musical path. Both having earned their MFAs in integrated composition, improvisation, and technology, the sibling duo has performed across the globe and collaborated with a wide range of artists from skater-turned-musician Tommy Guerrero to Beastie Boys colleague Money Mark.
Their latest release, 2016’s “Chocolat and Akito Meets the Mattson 2,” finds the pair teamed with a Japanese husband and wife pop duo - a project eight years in the making.
“We got a message from them on MySpace,” Jared said. “That gives you an idea of how long ago this was. But we had both recorded with John McEntire (Tortoise) and they had heard about our music through him. That was a week before we were heading to Japan to tour.”
The Mattson 2, with Montalban Quintet and Krass Bros.
When: 8:30 p.m. June 24
Where: Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., San Diego
They ended up meeting in Tokyo, immediately formed a connection, and vowed to work together. The married couple later flew to San Francisco to meet the Mattsons and record the album together. That was 2008.
Although it took the better part of a decade to complete, the Mattson guitarist knew it had to be done.
“We never even thought about collaborating with any kind of vocalists before that,” he said. “And we know quite a few of them.”
It’s the second time the brothers have crafted an album under the “Meets” title, the first being 2009’s “Ray Barbee Meets The Mattson 2" - another project with a skateboarder-turned-songwriter.
And there are likely many more on the way.
“It’s going to be a recurring theme,” Jared said. “We definitely have a few other ‘Meets’ projects in the works. They’re classified, but it’s definitely a thing.”
Future volumes will have to wait until after their upcoming Casbah show, the first Mattson 2 hometown performance in nearly 12 months.
But fans needn’t worry that they’ll have to wait another eight years for the brothers to collaborate with a unique artist. They’re committed to keeping the idea going and share far more than just genetics.
“There’s never been one thing that he’s liked that I’ve disliked,” Jared said of his twin. “We’ve always been on the same page, one hundred percent, no matter what. It’s true solidarity - and not for any other reason than that’s just how we naturally are.”
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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