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Walter Gorra

Award-winning pianist, composer and arranger

About Me

Walter Gorra is an award-winning pianist, composer and arranger based out of the New York/New Jersey metro area. Currently 26 years old, Walter graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder Magna Cum Laude and High Honors in May 2017 with the following three degrees – MS Structural engineering, BM Jazz Piano and BS Civil Engineering. He then pursued a master’s degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging at William Paterson University, graduating in May 2019.

In 2016, Walter led his Colorado quartet in a two-month residency at the Denver jazz club – Nocturne Jazz and Supper Club; performing his original music and arrangements. After completing this residency, he and his group, the Walter Gorra Quartet, dove into the studio to record Walter’s debut album “In Due Time” which was released August 1, 2018. “In Due Time” was nominated for the 17th annual Independent Music Awards (The IMAs) as “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” and in September of 2018 was selected as CD of the month by KUVO Jazz in Denver, CO. In Walter’s own words “music is a way to express oneself in a way that is often more powerful than words. Through my compositions and my playing I can describe people, places and experiences in the best way that I can. My debut album, ‘In Due Time,’ is really a snapshot of many of the events and people that have influenced me as a musician and as a person.”

In 2015, Walter was one of 30 young artists selected by KUVO during their 30th Anniversary year, as part of their “30 Under 30” campaign given them the spotlight and opportunity to have their audience become acquainted with them and their music. In February of 2015, Walter received a grant from the Boettcher Foundation to present and play with NEA Jazz Master Paquito D'Rivera in a master class and concert. The group, “The Walter Gorra Septet” played with Paquito D'Rivera at the KUVO radio studios in Denver, at the University of Colorado Boulder during a masterclass, and at the Mount Vernon Country Club in Denver.

Walter has worked with Billy Childs, Rufus Reid, Pete McGuinness, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Douglas, Bill Charlap, and Harold Mabern, to name a few. Walter has performed with various ensembles at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola-Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ravinia Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival, the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival, the Telluride Jazz Festival with the Telluride All-Stars and at the Five Points Festival in Denver with his quartet. His compositions have won first rate awards. “Jazongo,” the third cut on “In Due Time’ earned a 2014 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer’s Award. In 2018 his original composition “Bandwidth” was the Downbeat Student Music Awards Graduate Winner. In the performance category, he collaborated with the Mariela Versola Quartet winning the Latin Group – Graduate College 2019 Downbeat Student Music Award. Most recently, Walter was one of 15 Fellows invited to participate in the 2019 Ravinia's Steans Music Institute, Program for Jazz. All 15 fellows write original music in the program and they rehearse with a variety of individuals, learning how to perform well with changing personnel. He has been invited back for upcoming performances as part of a selection of 5 Alumni Fellows.

A 2011 Boettcher Scholar, he owes special thanks to the Boettcher Foundation. The Boettcher Foundation has a long history of contributions to Colorado and today continues to invest in the state's ”minds and mortar” through its Scholarship Program for Colorado high school seniors.

My Jazz Story

I love jazz because it allows me to express myself creatively through my music, and to bring joy to others. I was first exposed to jazz in middle school through summer jazz camps, and began listening to recordings and learning tunes. Eventually, I began composing my own music. I met saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera through a benefit concert that I organized for the Cuban Damas de Blanco organization. He was the guest soloist with my band, and I very much enjoyed playing and spending time with him. I don't have a best show that I've attended, but I've been fortunate to have seen a great deal of live music. Hearing Wayne Shorter with his quartet was an especially memorable concert. The first jazz record I bought was Kind of Blue at the recommendation of a teacher, and I really didn't like at first. My advice to new listeners is to listen to many different artists and styles, and to learn the history of the artists and recordings. There is so much incredible music recorded there's so much to discover.

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