This week’s featured artist is guitarist Chris Platt, who participated in Jazzology in 2011.
Already an accomplished guitarist in his teens, Chris connected with the guitarists Eric Clapton, Jim Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, whose music inspired him to develop his skills, write songs, and lead a band of his own. Following high school, he attended Mohawk College and graduated with an Applied Music Diploma. It was there that he developed his passion for jazz, studying with Bob Shields and listening to musicians such as Lenny Breau, Ed Bickert, Jim Hall, and Reg Schwager. Now a student at the University of Toronto, Chris is in the process of completing his undergraduate degree in Jazz Performance.
At this point in time, Chris’ influences include a broad range of genres including blues, jazz, Motown, and Brazilian. His music infuses these influences while still remaining true to the jazz idiom. Now an emerging artist on the Toronto scene, he is busy performing around town while continuing his studies.
Chris took some time to discuss his experience in the Jazzology program and provided an update on his more recent musical activities:
1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?
I was so happy when Pat Collins asked me to be a part of the Jazzology interview. I remember I was just about to get in my car and head to a gig when he asked Victor Vrankulj and I if we would be interested. I enjoyed the entire experience from picking songs, to recording standards with my trio, to meeting Brad Barker and doing the interview.
My favorite aspect was the learning experience Jazzology offered: being in my first real recording scenario, leading a band in the studio, organizing my thoughts and talking points for the interview, and actually being in the interview itself. All the steps involved provided a huge opportunity for growth and achievement that would not have otherwise been presented if it weren’t for Jazzology.
2) What is your strongest memory of the Jazzology program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?
I can remember how warm and welcoming Maureen and Brad were. They were both a big help in keeping me relaxed and focused. I remember an incident in the interview where Brad was steering me in the direction of talking about Lenny Breau (a huge influence on me) by asking me what guitar players I listened to when I first got into jazz. I somehow completely forgot that Lenny is one of my biggest heroes and said, “I didn’t really listen to many guitar players when I first started listening to jazz.” This was true, but Lenny was always a big part of my listening. As soon as I listened back to the interview I realized what had happened and was kicking myself for not mentioning Lenny.
I also said that Dave McMurdo introduced me to the song “Blue Dove” which wasn’t exactly true. It was Pat Collins who first played that song for us in a listening lecture at Mohawk and Dave was kind enough to lend me a copy of the CD after. It’s funny because both Carissa Kimbell and I made the same mistake. Sorry Pat.
3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?
I would absolutely recommend this experience to other young musicians. It not only helps you to learn about recording and self-promotion, but it gives you the best possible platform to display what you’ve learned and accomplished.
4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?
Personally this experience has helped me to accurately document where I was in my career as a jazz musician. To have musical recordings, as well as an interview, I will always have the chance to look back on that time in my life with clarity from a musical and personal perspective. Documenting my progress as an artist is very important to me, and the Jazzology program has allowed me to do that in a great way. From a professional standpoint, it has been a very proud moment on my resume. It is great to be able to mention to a client or employer that I was interviewed on JAZZ.FM91. Because people recognize the station, it has given me a level of credibility.
5) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?
I would like to thank the generous donors and sponsors who make programs like this possible. I always find it to be such a positive exchange when I meet donors in person. You get to see their passion for what you are doing, and they get to see the hard work and dedication that is put into a project when artists are alleviated of certain barriers. It really is a unique and powerful exchange that I am privileged to be a part of.
6) Why is music education important?
Music education is important because it allows artists to be immersed in an environment where they are free to experiment, ask questions, make mistakes, and ultimately (hopefully) succeed. It also creates a common language between artists that is invaluable when working and creating beyond the school environment.
7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?
I have been very busy, thankfully. When I graduated Mohawk, I decided to take a year off and didn’t apply to any schools. I continued to study with Bob Shields and took a few lessons with Reg Schwager. I found some teaching work and continued to gig and jam as much as possible. The following year I applied to the University of Toronto. I was so happy to be accepted into second year at the University of Toronto for Jazz Performance. Now in third year, I am mainly focused on my studies as well as performing quite frequently outside of school.
8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?
I discovered Brazilian guitarist and composer Guinga this past summer and he has become one of the most important musical influences in my life. I have been interested in Brazilian music for a few years now, and both Bob Shields and Reg Schwager had mentioned Guinga to me in passing. When I finally decided to really check him out, his album Roendopinho quickly became an album I would (and still do) listen to every day. I have since learned three of his solo guitar arrangements and will be performing them on my third year recital at U of T (March 21st, 2pm. 90 Wellesley). Along with Guinga, I have been listening to a lot of Corinne Bailey Rae, Lianne La Havas, Luciana Souza, Chick Corea, Tom Harrell, Marcus Tardelli, Wayne Krantz, Ed Bickert, Reg Schwager, and John Mayer.
9) What are your plans for the future?
Most of my plans are school related. The University of Toronto keeps me busy with regular schoolwork as well as lots of performing. Short-term plans involve doing well in school while continuing to build a reputation in the Toronto jazz community. Long term plans are to put out a CD after I graduate, teach, and gig/perform as much as possible. I feel like I’m on the right trajectory to accomplish these things, but if I’ve learned anything from being in a three year program already, it’s that things can turn out to be very different than how you planned them to be. For better or worse, I look forward to the learning opportunities.
10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?
11) Is there anything else that you want to add?
I would like to thank JAZZ.FM91 again for the opportunity to participate in Jazzology and for asking me to be a part of this follow up interview. I would also like to thank the generous donors that contribute to the arts. Keep supporting music and musicians. Thanks for reading!