OD How is the U of T program different from that of McGill?
AG I truly believe that both U of T and McGill are world class jazz programs that produce some of Canadas best jazz musicians. I made the choice to transfer to the University of Toronto when they offered me a generous full entrance scholarship dedicated to Phil and Noreen Nimmons. Its been an amazing experience to meet, study and occasionally play with idols of mine such as Professor Nimmons, Geoff Young and Quinsin Nachoff. Being in Toronto has also given me more of an opportunity to combine my academic studies with the life of a professional musician.
OD What has been your most memorable gig so far?
AG In the last year Ive put forward two of my most significant projects yet. In August I released my first album Roots with musicians Justin Gray on bass, Josh Park on drums and Jonathan Kay on saxophones. Our CD release was really exciting and provided me with a great opportunity to play my original music to a packed house. More recently, I wrote and debuted a five part suite entitled The John Galt Suite that combined jazz with elements of classical and world music, minimalism and film scoring. This was performed in December with saxophone great Quinsin Nachoff and provided me with a great opportunity to showcase my newest writing.
OD If you had to choose between guitar and piano?
AG I really enjoy approaching music through two different instruments. While I think of guitar as my main instrument, I still do a lot of writing and playing on piano.
OD Have you tried other instruments and/or singing and if not, would you?
AG Ive recently found myself playing electric bass in occasional gigs and studied violin and viola throughout high school. Ive had a brief foray into singing during my two years at McGill, when I needed to take choir as a mandatory course. Unfortunately, Im not very good.
OD Who have been your greatest teachers?
AG I feel very fortunate to have studied with some exceptional musicians who have made a huge impact on me. Im grateful to Toronto-based guitar player Rob Campbell for introducing me to jazz, but I feel like Ive gained something from everyone Ive played with. Lately Ive been making regular pilgrimages to New York and have been lucky enough to study with such jazz giants as Ben Monder, Jim McNeely and Wayne Krantz. Im grateful for all the lessons Ive learnt from the teachers Ive worked with, but find it hard to choose a top three.
OD Why did you pick "Out of Nowhere" and "Recordame" as the standards to include on Roots?
AG Out of Nowhere is a piece that Ive always enjoyed playing through many stages of my development in jazz. I thought that it was a great opportunity for the band to showcase their skills on a traditional swing feel standard. As for Recordame, Joe Henderson is a huge inspiration to me and this tune has always been a staple in our repertoire book.
OD Can you tell us anything about what to expect from your next album?
AG Ive been working a lot on developing a new and unique approach to composition, drawing on inspiration from visual art, literature and various forms of music outside of the jazz idiom. I plan to release The John Galt Suite on my next CD combined with some of my newer compositional ventures.
OD What do you want to achieve in your career more than anything else?
AG A unique voice paired with the opportunity to write and perform my compositions as much as possible. Im passionate about music and want to be out there playing as much as possible.