Alex Wintz - embracing variety and creating transformative music
As a musician and composer, Alex Wintz has a vast array of influences, from bluegrass to punk rock.
Son of a renowned jazz trombonist, Wintz grew up surrounded by music. As a four year old living in Morristown, NJ he specifically remembers hearing a Guns n Roses song and being inspired to learn to play guitar.
Wintz’s interest in music went through a variety of evolutions as a young adult. Initially inspired by blues and classic rock, in high school he became a self-described "punk rock kid." “I went through a rebellious period in high school- I had blue hair and spikes and was listening to a bunch of alternative stuff...”
Wintz came to jazz as an outgrowth of his punk rock interest- he realized that some of the more strange, avant-garde jazz music was quite similar to punk. It wasn't until he was a sophomore in high school that it became pretty clear to him that he wanted to buckle down and really focus on making a career of playing music.
Wintz went on to attend the Berklee School of Music on full scholarship, followed by the Juilliard School for his masters degree.
Despite having his graduate degree in music from Juilliard, a fairly classically focused conservatory, Wintz doesn't like to limit himself when it comes to genres. "It was interesting seeing some of the people I went to Juilliard with restrict themselves to a 4 block radius around Lincoln Center, only checking out jazz and classical and things like that... I was really thankful for having been exposed to all sorts of people and all sorts of styles. It’s a growing process, and that’s how the music grows.”
Although Wintz took on the role of a composer and leader quite frequently in school at Berklee and Juilliard, his ultimate goal after graduating was to be a working musician- to make a living playing music. He abandoned creating for a few years in order to secure consistent gigs playing music. In a given week, Wintz often gigs 6 out of 7 nights and plays in groups that range in genre from 1920s jazz to Motown to alternative hip hop.
Wintz embraces anything that makes him more diverse as a musician. The way that the music world has evolved, it has become near impossible to classify music into specific genres; everything is some combination of influence. The more influences that creators can compile, the more interesting and diverse their music can be. In his interview, Wintz spoke a lot about being open-minded."The more you are exposed to, the more interesting you are as an artist."
For the first time in a long while, Wintz resumes the role of band leader. Now that he has steady gigs and is more or less supporting himself playing music, he is inspired to start creating on his own.
Performing with him in his quartet are the talented Noah Garabedian, Lucas Pino and Jimmy MacBride, musicians with whom Wintz has played before and who he trusts will easily adapt his creative vision. "When you play with other people you need to trust them and trust that they will make the right decisions."
On the struggle to make a career out of music: "Anyone who decides to be a musician, particularly a jazz musician, if you’re doing it for anything besides personal fulfillment, you should explore something else...there are too many personal and financial risks involved to not be 100 percent committed to what you’re doing."
Wintz and the talented people with whom he surrounds himself share in this overwhelming passion for music of all kinds- this shared passion is mutually inspiring. As a composer, Wintz is also inspired by the ability for music to significantly enrich life experiences.
“There is at least 20 different moments I can think of in my life where I’ve heard a recording and it’s caused me to stop what I’m doing and listen because it’s emotionally moved me...we should never forget those moments, those are what we strive to achieve as composers.”
Come see Wintz's quartet perform as part of For Locals by Locals, tonight at 10pm, and experience the transformative power of music.