Tuesday, November 25, 2014

High School All-Stars Alumni Interview: Omree Gal-Oz

November’s All-Star Alumni Interview is of a recent performer here at the Center: Omree Gal-Oz graduated in 2012 from Gunn High School, was a member of the SFJAZZ Combo as well as the Jazz Orchestra, and is now in his third year at USC’s Thornton School of Music. This past Saturday evening, SFJAZZ hosted a double bill in the Joe Henderson Lab featuring the current All-Stars Combo as the opening set, followed by a supergroup of All-Star Alumni as the second set. Omree was our alumni group’s piano talent, and if you were hoping to learn more about that man on the keys last weekend, here is your chance….

Omree performing in the Joe Henderson Lab on Saturday night as part of SFJAZZ's
Combo & Alumni Showcase

Did you start learning piano with jazz in mind? When did jazz come to the forefront for you?

"I started out playing classical piano but switched to jazz when I heard Art Tatum’s version of “The Man I Love” when I was about 12 or 13. I had always been familiar with jazz because my dad plays jazz guitar, but I had never heard anything like Tatum before. At that point I decided to start studying with a jazz teacher, who introduced me to Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Michel Petrucciani. Those were the first guys I ever really checked out. Between the ages of 12 and 15, I went through some jazz education programs, like the Stanford Jazz Workshop and the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop. When I was 15, I auditioned for SFJAZZ."

What is one of your most memorable experiences in the High School All-Stars?

"The SFJAZZ Education program is the foundation for my knowledge regarding modern music. Out of all of the great moments with the program, the outstanding ones were the workshops with the SFJAZZ Collective. Hearing the guys in the Collective talk about music revealed an entire world of musicianship that I was unfamiliar with beforehand. Their mastery of the art form has been a constant source of inspiration."

Do you have any creative projects that you are working on now, musical or otherwise?

"In terms of creative work, I’ve only been studying other musicians. Recently I’ve been working on Art Tatum and John Coltrane’s music. I’ve been looking into the music of others to see what I can learn from them, and to build a better understanding of the piano and music as a whole. I’ve been doing transcription projects in order to get into the details of what some musicians are doing; I recently posted a transcription of McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane’s playing on "A Love Supreme." I did this to see how McCoy approached voicings on that album, and to see how Coltrane responds to McCoy’s comping."

If you could only listen to one pianist's canon for the rest of your life, whose would you choose?

"If I could only listen to one pianist for the rest of my life, I would choose Herbie Hancock. He has produced music in many different eras (he’s still producing music today), and he was a sideman on incredible recording sessions. I really enjoy his playing with Miles’s 2nd Great Quintet, especially on My Funny Valentine, Miles Smiles, and Filles de Kilimanjaro. Of his own stuff, I’m constantly listening to Maiden Voyage, HeadHunters, Thrust, Man-Child, The Piano, and New Standard. Also, Wayne Shorter’s "Native Dancer" and "1+1" are both albums with great playing by Herbie."

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