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Monday, May 13, 2019


(Gary Wittner)

The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music will present guitarist Gary Wittner (USA) on Wednesday May 15, 2019.

When Wittner began playing the guitar, he had a deep affinity for the blues and was drawn to the music of Rural Blues artists such as Lightning Hopkins and Big Bill Broonzy. He studied at the Berklee College of Music where he began studying and transcribing Thelonious Monk's music in earnest.

Graduating in 1981, Wittner moved to Colorado where he began performing all-Monk concerts. After three years as a freelance guitarist, he began a Master's Degree programme at Washington State University, where he completed his thesis (a study of Monk's compositional style) in 1986. From Washington, he was offered a faculty position at the University of Maine at Augusta. Based there until 1997, he taught and developed courses in Jazz History, Rock and Roll History, Jazz Theory, Ear Training, Music Business, Ensembles, and Private Lessons. He was the Jazz and Contemporary Music Department Coordinator in 1996 and was given the University's Distinguished Scholar Award the same year. As an original faculty member of the International Summer Jazz Academy (1994 - present in Krakow, Poland).

Wittner has performed throughout Poland and taught students from Poland, Denmark, Ukraine, France, Germany, Iceland, Austria, and the USA. Since 1997, he has divided his time between New York City, where he performs and teaches privately, and Maine where he is a part-time jazz guitar/ensemble instructor at the University of Southern Maine, Bowdoin College and Lincoln Academy.

Outside of the university, he continued to develop his presentations on the music and life of Thelonious Monk. To date, he has presented this programme at clubs and universities throughout the USA and in Canada, Poland, Russia, England, Wales, Austria, France and South Africa. He has been featured by many artists in concerts including Christian McBride, Reggie Workman, Richard Davis, Eddie Gomez, Clark Terry, Art Lande to name a few. He has performed for the Monk family, and been interviewed on the radio with Thelonious Monk, Jr. Gary's first book Thelonious Monk for Guitar, published by the Hal Leonard Corp. was released internationally in 1999 and has received international acclaim. Additional articles have been published by Guitar Player, Coda, and the International Association of Jazz Educators Journal. Wittner (as a member of the New York based Trio W.A.G.) has twice been chosen as a Kennedy Center/US Department of State Jazz Ambassador, with performances at the Capital Building, The Kennedy Center, and tours of Serbia/Montenegro/Slovenia (2001) and Papua New Guinea/Fiji (2003).

In 2006, Wittner received grants from the International Association of Jazz Educators and the Maine Arts Commission for performances/clinics at the South African National Arts Festival and the University of Cape Town. He has also developed a program that he presents for lower, middle and high school students called Our American Musical Heritage. This presentation is both entertaining and informative, and has become very popular with students and faculty members.

For the concert, Witter will be joined by Dalisu Ndlanzi on bass, Salim Washington on saxophones and Bruce Baker on drums 

The concert takes place on May 15, 2019, at 18h00 (doors open at 17h30) at The Centre for Jazz and Popular music (CJPM), Level 2, Shepstone Building at UKZN Howard College Campus. General admission R80 (R50 pensioners, R25 students).

Contact Thuli on 031 2603385 or email for more details