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Take Five with Lukas Gabric

Lukas Gabric By

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About Lukas Gabric

Saxophonist, musicologist, and composer Lukas Gabric began his musical education at the Conservatory of Carinthia in his native country, Austria. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New School University in New York, a Master of Arts from the City College of New York, a postgraduate Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School, and is currently pursuing a PhD in musicology at the City University of New York's Graduate Center. Mr. Gabric was selected as a member of the European Generations Unit 2012—an ensemble consisting of winners of the Swiss Generations Competition. In 2013, he was a semifinalist in the Thelonious Monk Competition in Washington, D.C., placed third in the North American Saxophone Alliance Competition in Urbana-Champaign/IL 2014 and received the Best Soloist and Audience Choice Awards at the Getxo Jazz Festival 2014 in Spain. Mr. Gabric's composition "Fire Dance" was awarded an ASCAP Herb Alpert Composition Award in 2016. While maintaining a busy international performance and recording schedule, Mr. Gabric teaches music history and theory at the City College of New York and serves as saxophone faculty for The Juilliard School's Music Advancement Program. He recently published an article on hermeneutics and jazz in the peer reviewed Jazz Perspectives Journal and his album Labor of Love (released February 2019) has already received international media attention. Mr. Gabric organizes an international jazz saxophone competition and masterclass series every summer in the south of Austria.

Instrument(s):

My main instrument is the tenor saxophone, but I also play alto on occasion -predominantly for "classical" and "new music" works. I also double on flute.

Teachers and/or influences?

Some of my early teachers in Austria, like Harry Simschitz and Michael Erian, had a profound influence on me. When I came to the US to study, I was very fortunate to take lessons with incredible players such as Joel Frahm, Walt Weiskopf, Eric Alexander, Steve Wilson, Ron Blake, Rich Perry, Billy Harper, John Patitucci and many more. All of them helped me to become the player I am today and there are many specific things that each one of them has helped me to cultivate. In terms of other influences, I continue to be obsessed with Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, George Coleman, Seamus Blake, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Ralph Bowen, and many others.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I heard a recording of Paul Desmond playing "Somewhere" from West Side Story with the Dave Brubeck Quartet when I was six and knew that there is nothing more beautiful that I could pursue in life.

Your sound and approach to music.

I want my notes to be painted on my air-stream, if that makes sense. In other words, I think audible air-stream first, notes second. That doesn't mean that I don't think deeply about my note choices but that I envision the air stream as a constant entity like a painter's blank canvas onto which I add notes. I always strive for my sound to be big, and resonant in all registers, even when I'm playing softly. I think articulation is an often overlooked component of an artist's "sound." In consequence I use my tongue very judiciously. My general approach to music is altruistic. I want listeners to experience something that they can take with them when they hear my music whether live or on record. I'm not a big fan of innovation for the sake of innovation but believe that new things can be found through intensive study and diligence. I've been teaching music history classes at the City College of New York for seven years now. Getting to know renaissance, baroque, Galant, romantic, etc. music on a deep level has taught me innumerable things that inform my understanding of jazz. Knowing history is an incredibly advantage and I believe that the further one can look back the further one can see into the future.

Your teaching approach

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