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Take Five with Q Morrow

Q Morrow By

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About Q Morrow

Based in New York City, Q is an eclectic modern guitarist. At home in many different styles of music such as jazz, R&B, Brazilian styles such as Samba, Forro, and Choro, Karnatic, and Afro Cuban music as well, Q is a true musical citizen of the world, deeply internalizing all of this music and making it his own, resulting in a very broad palette he draws from. These influences show particularly well in his compositions, on full display on his two albums of original music All Around Dude and the recently released There Are Stars in Brooklyn.

Q maintains a busy schedule as a sideman and a band leader in NYC at clubs such as the 55 Bar, Cornelia St Cafe, Zinc Bar, and jazz festivals around the world.

Instrument(s):

Guitar. I mainly play nylon string acoustic (a Glenn Canin flamenco negra and a Cervantes Palo Escrito), a Victor Baker archtop, and a G&L Legacy strat. I started music studying violin for 3 years when I was 9 years old. I also played a lot of drums in my formative years.

Teachers and/or influences?

I studied with Christine Greene in Boise, ID for two years when I was 12. I was then self taught until I attended Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, CA. Some of my favorite teachers there were Ray Brown, Mickey McGushin, and Lou Harrison. I then attended the University of North Texas where I studied with Poovalur Srinivassan, Lynn Seaton, and a great classical guitar teacher whose name I can't recall...After UNT I spent a year studying Carnatic music in Bangalore, India with Veena maestro Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh.

Some major influences would include:

In no particular order:

Joe Pass, Charlie Parker, Seu Jorge, Tribe Called Quest, Djavan, Muddy Waters, John Coltrane, Paulinho da Viola, Joao Gilberto, Tomatito, Tony Rice, George Clinton & P-Funk, McCoy Tyner, Notorious B.I.G., Jacob do Bandolim, Hubert Sumlin, Stevie Wonder, Bill Evans, James Brown, Chico Buarque, Miles Davis, Pixinguinha, Wes Montgomery, S Balachander, Bach, Caetano Veloso, Chopin, 2Pac, Debussy, Jobim, Brahms, Elis Regina, A.K. Palanivel, Diego Del Morao, Howlin Wolf, Ganesh and Kumaresh, Veena Jayanthi Kumaresh, and many more!

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

My first band Fat James and the Three Fats got booed off the stage and had oranges thrown at us at a community event in Caldwell, ID when I was 14 over our inappropriate lyrics. That was my first public performance and it was exhilarating! I was instantly hooked when I saw what an impact music could have.

Your sound and approach to music.

I love the intimacy of acoustic instruments. I think that's the main reason I gravitate towards the nylon string guitar rather than the more popular electric guitar. I'm constantly learning about new styles and absorbing ideas into my style. Usually this happens because I'll have to learn music that I'm unfamiliar with for a gig. If it resonates with me, I'll dig deep into it long after I play the gig. I always try and immerse myself in the culture that different music styles comes from, playing with and learning from musicians from that area of the world. This is something I've done with Cuban, Carnatic, Brazilian styles, and jazz. After I've become competent in a style of music, I look for ways to incorporate it into the other styles I play. I'm always looking for the places where genres meet and things that they have in common. I love the mixing of cultures. It's beautiful and has always been a part of what jazz has been all about.

Road story:

Bringing my band back to my hometown of Boise, ID earlier this year to a sold out show of over 200 people at Cinder. Seeing the audience in Boise come out in such force and appreciate my complicated and exotic music was validating. At one point the crowd went wild over a drum solo in 7/8 with a fairly complex guitar montuno accompaniment!

Favorite venue

I love the jazz clubs in NYC like 55 Bar, Cornelia St. Cafe, Zinc Bar, and Mezzrow.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I try my best to write things that sound fresh but also resonate with audiences. I'm combining things in ways that haven't been done before in quite such an organic way. I'm constantly exploring new ideas in my compositions, however difficult they may be to pull off live!

The first jazz album I bought was:

Maybe the Modern Jazz Quartet The Complete Last Concert. This album still gives me goosebumps. It has everything: deep groove, interesting arrangements, an element of the blues, excellent solos, space, vision. Their version of "Confirmation" really grabbed me because the melody and harmony was so complex but their performance came off so catchy and accessible.

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