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Take Five With Evan Shay

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Meet Evan Shay:
Evan Shay is a saxophonist and composer based in Montreal. He recently completed his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at McGill University with the distinction of Outstanding Achievement in Jazz Saxophone. He was also awarded the prestigious four-year Seymour Schulich Scholarship. Evan was a member of the top McGill Jazz Orchestra I for three years, and the McGill Chamber Jazz Ensemble.

Evan completed two tours of France, and has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival, Jazz à Vienne, Festi Jazz international de Rimouski, and at major venues across North America. He was awarded an Exceptional Artist Award and featured at the NAC/Astral Radio Showcase. His jazz quintet, Redshift, placed as Jazz en Rafale finalists.

Evan is originally from Seattle, Washington. He was a member of the nationally acclaimed Garfield Jazz Ensemble. Evan played lead alto when Garfield won first place for two years in a row at the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition in New York City. He also received Outstanding Sax Soloist at Ellington both years, as well as at the Lionel Hampton and Reno Jazz Festivals. He was a Grammy Jazz Band finalist, and a DownBeat Award recipient.

Instrument(s):
Saxophone

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I was in the jazz band in Washington Middle School under the direction of the legendary Robert Knatt. He pushed every student to want to reach their full potential through discipline and hard work. Performing with this band was crucial to my development as a person and musician. It was here I decided I wanted to be a jazz musician.

Your teaching approach:
I believe strongly in ear training, and learning through listening. There's no better teacher than the music itself, and teaching students how to listen to music and absorb it is incredibly important.

Favorite venue:
I think the mainstage at Jazz à Vienne is one of the most amazing venues I have been to. It is beautifully situated in an ancient amphitheatre overlooking the town.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
The Best of Cannonball Adderley (The Capitol Years)

CDs you are listening to now:
David Binney, Anacapa (Criss Cross)
Steve Lehman Octet, Mise en Abîme (Pi Recordings)
Tony Malaby, Paloma Recio (New World Records)
Hayden Chisholm, Mute Density (Moontower Foundation)
Paul Motian, Garden Of Eden (ECM)

Desert Island picks:
Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma (Warp)
Bjork, Medúlla (Warner Bros. Records )
Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Blues (MCA Records)
Charlie Parker, Charlie Parker With Strings (Verve)
John Coltrane, Sun Ship (Impulse)

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Musicians need to continue to push the music in new directions. We need to develop our own unique voices in order to discover new areas to explore. I think listening to all music is the most important thing one can do to develop their voice as a musician because everyone has something to bring to the table. We need to continue to create forward-thinking music and find new sounds.

What is in the near future?
I am releasing a suite I wrote called Homeward. You can listen to it on Bandcamp.

By Day:
I also work within the music community as a photographer and videographer. You can see my work on my website.

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