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Roy McGrath

Roy McGrath is a tenor saxophonist, composer, bandleader and sideman living in Chicago, IL. He recently graduated with a master’s degree in Music from Northwestern University, where he studied under Victor Goines (saxophonist for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Director of Jazz Studies at Northwestern University). He transcribes, arranges, and composes music for a variety of situations, and currently works as the Woodwind/Brasswind instructor at Flatt’s and Shape Musical Academy in Chicago.

Born and raised in San Juan, PR, Roy sang in school choirs before picking up the saxophone at age 16. After attending the Berklee College of Music Summer Workshop, he earned a full scholarship to attend Berklee School of Music’s Five Week Summer Performance Program. He honed his improvisational skills by performing with notable jazz pianist and Beach Boys’ alumni Carli Muñoz.

Roy pursued his studies at Loyola University in New Orleans under the tutelage of Tony Dagradi (saxophonist for Astral Project) and composer/arranger John Mahoney. He graduated in 2009 with BM in Jazz Performance. During his time in New Orleans, Roy performed with a variety of musicians including: Gustavo Cortiñas-Fouilloux, Trey Boudreaux, Chris Guccione, Joshua Gouzy, Marlena Dzis, Fredy Omar, John Marcey, Café Con Leche and Easy Company. His performances include three appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and an appearance at the New Orleans French Quarter Fest with Fredy Omar y su Banda Latina.

In addition to his studies, Roy has gained valuable performance experience in a variety of settings. In 2009, he joined the Camp-of-the-Woods wind ensemble playing Broadway, big band, contemporary jazz, classical, and worship music in Speculator, NY. He performed with this ensemble for four years, including serving as the Director of Jazz Small Ensembles and Big Band for two years. He has taught masterclasses on improvisation in Mexico and at the Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico; and worked for Suman Entertainment as a tenor saxophonist and doubler on alto/clarinet/flute on cruise ships in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Roy has played on numerous recordings, both as sideman and band leader. He recorded on Easy Company’s self-titled album in 2009, produced by five-time Grammy winner John Snyder and five-time Grammy winning recording engineer David Farrell. In 2010, he recorded an album as leader entitled Long Shot. In 2013 he played on Gustavo Cortinas’ album Snapshot, and toured Mexico in support. He has been recognized in competitions, and placed third in the Union League Civic Arts Foundation Jazz Improvisation Competition in 2013 (Chicago, IL).


Album Review

Constantine Alexander: Firetet

Read "Firetet" reviewed by Jack Bowers

On his debut recording, Firetet, Chicago-based trumpeter Constantine Alexander pays tribute to Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the late great Clifford Brown and modern-day disciples Nicholas Payton and Sean Jones. Alexander does not do so by imitating anyone--that would be fruitless--but the swinging spirit of Blakey, Brown and the present-day artists already noted is ever- present on what is basically a bop-centered studio session reminiscent of the classic Blue Note and Prestige albums from the '50s and '60s. ...

Album Review

Roy McGrath: Remembranzas

Read "Remembranzas" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Honoring special memories of the past, Chicago-based Puerto Rico-born tenor saxophonist Roy Mcgrath presents a light Latin-styled session on Remembranzas, featuring eight new compositions, including a special tribute to Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos. A fixture in Chicago's music scene, Mcgrath has led various groups performing jazz, funk, Latin and Salsa. While the leader is firmly established in the jazz scene as a traditional musician, he draws on his Latin heritage for this recording. As ...

Album Review

Roy McGrath Quartet: Martha

Read "Martha" reviewed by James Nadal

In music as well as life, to succeed one must often take chances, jazz is undoubtedly filled with risk takers which were essential in determining this music. The saxophone for Roy McGrath has taken him on a remarkable journey since leaving his home in Puerto Rico to seek his musical passion. It wound through many years studying and gigging in Boston, and New Orleans, ending up in Chicago with further education and performing opportunities. Leading an inspiring quartet, he ventured ...

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“...{When I Leave You}, written for a former lover, is a nostalgic song that features McGrath’s gently caressing, yearning tenor over Latin flavored vamps of the rhythm section." —Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz

“...The tenor sax chair switches off between Victor Goines and McGrath, but the line-up is otherwise stable and consistent. Both saxophones are forthright voices in a team of equals. …And though the record could sound conservative and mainstream, at its best moments, adventurous soloing and arrangements prevent things from growing dull. This is most striking on longer cuts like "Skepticism," with its fiery interplay of the horns of trumpeter Justin Copeland and McGrath.” —Jeff Dayton-Johnson, All About Jazz

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Self Produced


Desafío Candente

Woolgathering Records



Self Produced



Self Produced



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