Meet jazz musician Gabriel Guerrero. Born in Colombia, Gabriel has pursued music here in New York for 20 years. Check out what Gabriel had to say about his artistic process and where he draws inspiration from. Come hear Gabriel Guerrero and his band Quantum at this week’s (8/22) Live at the Landing concert at 6:00pm.
First off, quick background info! Tell us your name, where you’re from, and what you do.
My name is Gabriel Guerrero, I am from Bogota, Colombia, and I am a New York-based Jazz pianist/composer and educator.
How’d you get into music? How long have you been performing?
I started when I was 5 years old, as my older siblings were taking piano lessons, and I started to play on my own until my mother decided to put me on piano lessons as well. I started playing Colombian music as well as Latin and classical music. I was a classical pianist until I moved to New York in 1998 where I enrolled at Hunter College and was lucky to win the Piano Concerto Competition. Later on that year I was granted a full scholarship at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston to study Jazz, and I got my Bachelor and Masters there. For the last 20 years I have been leading my own bands and in 2011 I released my first album FEYAS which was praised by the media. For the last 5 years I have been leading my band Quantum, with which we have played as both a trio and quartet.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I am an improviser and composer, I love that I every time I perform it is different. I use every moment as an inspiration, so I don't really know what will come out until we play it. Music has taught me a lot about life, about how precious and unique every moment is. I also love to connect with people trough music, it is interesting how different people perceive different things from one's music. I feel I connect best with music than with words. Additionally I love to inspire young music students to be curious about learning this discipline.
How is teaching/performing in the park different than your typical venue?
It will be an interesting experience to perform at the park. We are excited to play there and bring our musical landscape to the audience. We really hope people join us on our musical journey.
When you’re not performing, what is your favorite thing to do in the parks?
Parks are very important especially in New York since we are surrounded by buildings and concrete. Parks help us to connect with each other and with nature. It is a place where I can go to relax, read, or meditate.
Lastly, where do you find yourself drawing inspiration from?
I am a very spiritual being, and music is something very personal and spiritual. I like to write songs thinking on the players who will perform with me. I also sketch songs drawn by personal experiences. I have written songs inspired on Tangos, Colombian Rhythms, Classical, Contemporary Music, as well as other great improvisers who always inspire me. In our new upcoming record there is a song inspired by Jazz icon, Ornette Coleman, as well as a song written in Bogota, which portrays the fast chaotic city life within our inner mind processes. I also love painters, some of my favorites are Miro, Picasso, Obregon, and many other abstract painters. I hear music when I see their paintings. For me music is much more than notes; Music is space, colors, textures, intentions, etc.