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Because Hamiltonians Are ‘Live from NY’: Grant Zubritsky ’07


The ever versatile Grant Zubritsky ’07 primarily plays the bass, but also piano and keyboards, saxophone, flute, and guitar. He sings, too, and is a music producer and director.

Zubritsky, who works mostly in pop, electronic, and R&B, sometimes throws in jazz licks, thanks to Michael “Doc” Woods, the Margaret Bundy Scott Professor of Music, and Monk Rowe, music lecturer and director of the Fillius Jazz Archive.

In December, Zubritsky had a big career moment — he performed on Saturday Night Live with British pop singer Dua Lipa. “It's not jazz, but hey, it's SNL,” he told Woods and Monk.

A philosophy major at Hamilton, Zubritsky made time to play in two campus bands plus the College Jazz Band. Later, he was in Jazz Combo, serving as bandleader during his final semester. “I found myself hanging with a lot of musicians. Listening and making music outside of our studies was probably my primary focus,” he recalled. He was en route to a career as a musician.

Zubritsky recently agreed to answer some questions about his work.

What was it like to perform on SNL?

As a New York musician for 10 plus years now, playing on SNL is a bucket-list gig that I never really thought I would do. Although there was a decent amount of pressure and very high expectations from the entire team, the experience on the whole was nothing less than amazing. I told a friend the other day that the moment when we were standing on stage and the host announced, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, Dua Lipa,’ was probably one of the most memorable moments in my career to date. Just that moment before it all happens.

What are you working on now that you are especially excited about?

Well, since playing live is a little tricky during the pandemic, and a lot of my work depended upon the live show, I’ve had a big shift in my career over the past year.  I’ve been really excited about working in my home studio. I’m playing and producing from my spare bedroom, and while it’s wildly different than touring, I’ve really been enjoying it. Hopefully a new EP under my moniker GZGZ will be done in the next few months.

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You keep in contact with Monk and Doc. What sort of impact did they have on you as a musician?

Both Doc and Monk had huge impacts on me as a musician at Hamilton. I did an independent study with Doc my junior year in jazz, which taught me so much of the culture of music. It’s hard to understand that when you’re a student.  I’m not sure I really grasped it until I was right out of Hamilton, living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, trying to meet and play with other musicians in N.Y.C. 

Monk was my saxophone teacher but also helped me realize that being a good musician didn’t have to mean being the best at your instrument. Of course, you have to be good and practice, but there was more to it than that. A few times my senior year, he had me come out and play bass with his blues band at places like Piggy Pat’s, and that was huge for me. It was a real gig, playing with professional musicians that were living and working around Utica. It taught me how to prepare, how to be on stage, and how to act and hang off-stage. 

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