You may have heard guitarist Aaron Shorr over the years, playing solo or duo in a café setting, or adding spice to a larger ensemble. He’s an adventurous musician with flying fingers and a quick smile.
Did you always know guitar was your instrument?
I started playing guitar when I was 11. I actually took a year of drum lessons first, but I wasn’t a very good student—I didn’t practice all that much. I switched to guitar because I had a friend across the street who started taking lessons. I spent the first few months just making noise on it and learning a few rock riffs. After about a year of that, I started to take lessons and was practicing a few hours a night right from the get go. I knew right away that I was going to be playing for the rest of my life.
Which jazz musicians stand as your biggest inspirations?
Coltrane, Miles, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Lee Morgan, Jeff Tain Watts, Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Stevie Wonder… The list is really much longer than that but they always come to mind first. Each musician in this list has a particularly unique voice and character. That’s important to me. Every one of my favourite artists writes and plays music that’s a reflection of their life experience, and that’s how their music reaches a listener at a core level. They’re all seasoned storytellers.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
That sort of depends on the day. But overall it’s been a lot of Atlantic Era Coltrane (Coltrane’s Sound, My Favorite Things, etc), Jim Hall and Ron Carter’s Alone Together, Bernstein/Goldings/Stewart’s: Live at Smalls, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Emmylou Harris’ Evangeline, B.B. King’s Live at the Cook County Jail…
What projects are you working on these days?
I’m performing at the CCFM on November 15 with my quartet featuring Will Bonness, Julian Bradford and Kevin Waters. We’ll be playing some old favourites, a couple new tunes, and a few arrangements. More than anything I’m just excited to explore some music with some of my favourite musicians.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a jazz musician?
The biggest thing for me is to just be open, to be listening, and to have high standards for music. The more you push yourself and the more aware you are of your own strengths and weaknesses, the more you’ll improve and the more fun you’ll have. I’ve been fortunate enough to gig in a variety of contexts in and outside of jazz, and from that I’ve learned to try to be as aware as possible of what the music needs. A large part of the battle is simply paying very close attention. That goes for listening and playing—they’re really one and the same.