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Take Five With Shaun Mahoney

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Shaun Mahoney:

Shaun Mahoney began studying music at eight years old. He took piano lessons for four years before switching to the guitar. During high school, after attending summer music camps, he decided to study jazz guitar at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Upon graduation, Shaun stayed in Wilmington, NC working as a music teacher and performer for four years. He moved to New Jersey in 2008 and continued to work as a teacher and performer. In 2010, Shaun received a masters degree in jazz studies from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Instrument(s):

Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences?

Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Joe Pass.

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

Since I was very young I've enjoyed playing music. Once I figured out that I could do it for a career, it was an easy choice.

Your sound and approach to music:

I try to play with honesty. I'm not sure how honest I always am, but I try. I am based in the blues and will always come back to the blues in my playing.

Your teaching approach:

Give the students what they want. Teach them things that they will latch on to. I think the most important thing when learning to play is to always have the instrument in your hands. Of course, the student has to push themselves to get better, but if a teacher can motivate a student to play all the time. Whatever it may be that the student is playing is good.

Your dream band:

I don't think I'd feel comfortable naming certain artists. I love to play straight-ahead, soul/organ jazz, hip hop and R&B, and gospel. So playing with any of the prominent artists in those genres would be a great opportunity.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

John Coltrane's Lush Life.

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

An aggressive attack to the guitar with traditional and modern elements.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

I think the state of all live music is uncertain. Other than pop acts that are more show biz or entertainment. Music by itself is not enough for many people to relate to anymore. For the average American, music has to be accompanied by some kind of image/video/show for them to listen to it. Duke Ellington had an image but the audience still tended to put the music first. It was all about the music back in the day. The image was like the cherry on top. Now it's the other way around for most people.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Parents that listen to jazz. Education systems that still have music programs for very young children. Kids need to understand that the feeling they get from listening to people like Lady Gaga or Neyo comes from the same place as John Coltrane. And they need to learn that music without words is the same as instrumental music in that sense.

What is in the near future?

Playing gigs with the trio that I am in. It's called Up Jumped Strings. Look for us on MySpace.

By Day:

I teach guitar lessons.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Chef.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Shaun Mahoney


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