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The Jazz Heard 'Round the World


The low and full sound of a bass guitar was accompanied by smooth chord progressions on the piano at the Little Pub on Oct. 16, as alumnus Grant Zubritsky ’07 played alongside Hamilton’s jazz combo, led by Fillius Jazz Archive Director Monk Rowe. The performance was a supplement to Rowe’s six-week online edX course named “Jazz: The Music, The Stories, The Players,” where students learn the basic components that make up the jazz genre.  More than 6,000 students are enrolled in the course.  Besides the livestreamed gig, Zubritsky also took the time to speak to students on his experiences while at college and as a growing musician.

Despite being a philosophy major during his time at Hamilton, Zubritsky took advantage of the campus’ musical culture by taking private lessons from his professors, forming his own campus band, and being a member of the college’s jazz band. He worked closely with Rowe, primarily playing the bass and the saxophone.

When recalling his experiences at Hamilton, Zubritsky acknowledged that “in a lot of ways, [his college experience] did prepare [him] in the theory sense and the playing sense, like the physicality of playing instruments,” but his time in New York actually performing gigs showed him the reality of being a musician. “The building blocks for how to play, what to play, and the music theory behind it was definitely all attained at Hamilton,” but his post-college experience was all focused on putting his skills into practice.

Zubritsky also expressed that he’s no stranger to feeling unsure about following his passions, especially in the competitive profession of music.

“There’s always times of doubt,” he explained, recalling experiences where he didn’t know if he was going to get paid or if gigs he auditioned for would end up being his. “But for all those times, there’s times that you have a really awesome gig, you do this amazing tour, you get to work with someone you really look up to, or even if you just get a call to audition for a band. Just getting [the call] reminds you that people are thinking of you and you are a part of this hustle.”

Following the discussion, Zubritsky played bass with jazz student Carter Sanders ’18 on the piano in an improvised session. He reminded aspiring musicians that “if the passion, the fire, the desire to play, perform, and write music is keeping you going, then you’ll do whatever you need to do,” and that ultimately, it’s important for students who feel strongly about their interest in music to simply use that drive and take the initiative to work hard and follow their passions.

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