About

cd-oct-2017-3798.jpgAs my idol, David Sanborn once told me, ‘you have a story to tell and you have to tell it!’ Dave meant for me to tell it with music but I also tell it with words.

Music has always been front row center in my life. When I was 13, I performed a piano piece that I composed for jazz legend Oscar Peterson’s memorial concert – recorded by CBC Radio. When I stood to acknowledge the audience I was overwhelmed by the standing ovation I received. I knew then that I wanted to become a professional musician.

What I didn’t see coming was the freight train that nearly derailed my dreams. In 2010, at 15 years old, I suffered a traumatic brain hemorrhage during routine surgery that initially paralyzed the right side of my body. When I came home from the hospital a month later, I couldn’t even make a sound on the piano with my right hand. Despite this setback, I remained determined. Two months later, I attended the University of Manitoba (U of M) Summer Jazz camp playing the piano with my left hand only.

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Winnipeg jazz sax great, Walle Larsson, approached me soon after and knowing that it would be easier for me to play the sax than the piano with my compromised hand, taught me a technique that relied more on reflexes than finger strength.  Before I knew it I was playing music with both hands again!

Connor and Craig Bailey

In the fall of 2012, Walle left for L.A. to record a new CD just as Craig Bailey –  a longtime member of the Ray Charles Band – arrived in town to take a term position at the U of M. Craig and I met at a jam session and after hitting it off, he offered to step in as my mentor.

In 2013, my dream of entering the U of M’s Jazz Studies faculty was realized as I was accepted on alto sax. At the U of M, I have been privileged to study with New York sax veteran Jon Gordon – the ‘96 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition.

I have performed at numerous events including the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, Rady JCC Sports Dinner and the Asper Jazz Series and headlined shows at the Jazz in the Garden Series in 2015 and 2016 as well as the 2017 Summer Music Series at the Lyric Theatre. Back in 2014, I had the opportunity to share the stage with Ray Parker Jr., Nick Colionne and Keb Mo among others on the Dave Koz Alaskan Jazz Cruise.

Group Shot Dave Koz Cruise
Austin Gatus, Connor, Nick Colionne, Ray Parker Jr., Tony Moore and Darryl Williams

In June 2017, I travelled to New York City to record sax and piano parts for the soundtrack to the upcoming Zeno Mountain Farm production, ‘The Homecoming’ – a film that features actors with diverse abilities.

I am currently in my final year of Jazz Studies, completing a double major in sax and piano. When I’m not at the U of M, I enjoy sharing my passion for music at restaurants, corporate events, fundraisers, schools, weddings and concerts. A writer as well as a performer, I am looking forward to recording my first solo project in the near future.

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