Justin Wert, now a resident of lower Westchester County, first came to the NYC area from Seattle with a musical vision in mind. He currently plays gigs on his seven-string guitar in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. He has a regular jazz gig on Sundays with k Soprano Saxophonist Lorenzo Sanguedolce at Bijan’s on the corner of Hoyt St. and Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. Inspired in the early years of his guitar playing by such greats as Jimi Hendrix, Santana and The Doors, Justin eventually discovered for himself such jazz legends as Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Charley Parker and Herbie Hancock, whose music introduced him to the wonders of improv.
Justin had help from friends in getting settled in NYC. ‘The two main people who I knew before moving here who helped get me set up are Jon Wikan, and Ingrid Jensen. Jon hooked me up with my first apartment, and both of them introduced me to some great musicians like Matt Clohesy.’
Justin is an artist in pursuit of the development of his personal style. ‘While I’ve always tended to be drawn to music that has a rich or complex harmonic palette, the music I’m seeking out at the moment is all over the place in all areas and styles of music, especially the obscure ones. I’m looking to write music that pulls together all the ideas and influences that I’ve accumulated over the years.’
While he has matured in his appreciation for various mucial styles, he took some time getting accustomed to some of the music for which he now has a great appreciation. ‘I first discovered many of these musicians by borrowing CDs from the library and listening to them on my headphones. When I first heard Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” it didn’t appeal to me, but then I heard things pop out and show me a different depth and artistry than what I was used to.’
This ‘depth and artistry’ now defines Justin’s own style as he performs with tenor saxophonist Lorenzo Sanguedolce at Bijan’s. He feels with Lorenzo that there is a ‘free flow of ideas’ that feels natural. Sometimes, they have several saxophonists rehearse with them, and each musician brings ‘something unique’ to the experience.
Justin also brings the depth and artistry to his own projects. He likes ‘a clean, pure sound,’ saying that he ‘doesn’t mess with pedals.’ This old-school approach fits in well with his love of the Miles Davis group of artists.
Since coming to NYC, Justin has been gigging in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. At times he has taken on a part-time job, and he also has students to whom he teaches guitar.
John Stowell, a friend of Justin, played at Justin’s wedding last year. John has been a huge influence on his guitar playing.
While it would be premature to say the Justin has settled on his style, he is sure going the right way about the journey.
To see more about Justin and listen to his music, check out his site.