Gary Wittner Quartet
Guitarist Gary Wittner has been performing jazz in Maine for 29 years. His performance career spans 4 decades, 25 countries, and 5 continents worldwide. Twice selected as a Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador, he has also received Fulbright Specialist and Maine Arts Commission grants. Gary has released 6 CDs and published one book, "Thelonious Monk for Guitar".
Gary's career has been quite varied, and has moved through several distinct phases. In the late 1970's he started playing jazz standards. Shortly thereafter he discovered a love for the music of Thelonious Monk, for which he developed a concert/lecture program for presentation at universities and clubs. In 1994 Gary was selected to play for Monk's widow; he has also been interviewed on the radio with Monk's son. In the 1990's Gary began composing/performing original compositions and touring with Tuba virtuoso Howard Johnson. Around 2003 he got very interested in Latin music and developed groups with Cuban vocalist Raul Freyre (Dos Canosos), and Chilean percussionist Andres Espinoza (Grupo Mofongo). He also started yearly trips to Ecuador, where he plays with musicians from that area.
Most recently, Gary has been studying voice, and writing original songs with lyrics. Many of these songs are humorous, in the style of Mose Allision and Dave Frishberg - examples include "Winter Song" (an anti-winter protest song), "I'll Quit Tomorrow" (concerning bad habits), and "Did I Say That Out Loud" (regarding speaking when one shouldn't). He has been experimenting with various ways of integrating voice into his music - in addition to singing lyrics, he is harmonizing voice/guitar and singing bass lines while soloing. To date he has released one CD with 8 of his vocal originals. Since then his new vocal music has been heard in local concerts, internationally in Ecuador and Poland, and on Portland's WMPG and Maine's public radio station, MPBN. Gary continues writing vocal tunes and performing regionally.
Gary will be joined by Maine jazz luminaries Steve Grover (drums) and Matt Langley (sax). Both have been performing jazz in Maine and New England for decades, leading their own groups and performing as sidemen regularly. Bassist Scott Kiefner rounds out the group - a younger musician, he is quickly making a name for himself as an in-demand jazz bassist. He plays in Portland regularly with Steve Grover's group and is a busy freelance musician.
14 Maine Street
Brunswick, ME 04011