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Nathan Hiltz

This week’s featured artist is guitarist Nathan Hiltz. Born and raised in Halifax, Nathan has made Toronto his home since 1999. A graduate of the jazz programs at Humber College and the University of Toronto, he has studied with Reg Schwager, Jim Hall, and Adam Rogers.

Nathan maintains a busy professional career, having played on over twenty albums, toured Canada extensively, and performed with Jill Barber, Patrick Boyle, Alex Dean, Brandi Disterheft, Terra Hazelton, Melissa Lauren, Ryan Oliver, and Bernie Senensky.

His organ project Organic has maintained a six-year residency at Joe Mamas in the heart of Toronto’s theater district, releasing Live At Joe Mamas in 2013. A co-founder of the Griffith Hiltz Trio with the saxophonist Johnny Griffith, their 2013 release This Is What You Get... was produced by Hawksley Workman. 

Recently Nathan has been focusing on songwriting, collaborating with jazz artists like Carlo Berardinucci, Beverly Taft, Melissa Lauren, and Whitney Ross Barris. Beverly Taft is releasing her album Bev Taft Meets the Nathan Hiltz Orchestra in April 2014. Nathan is also active as an educator, teaching at his home studio and at Humber College.

Nathan took part in Jazzology in 2009 while completing his Masters of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Toronto. He shared his thoughts on the program and updated us on his recent activities:

1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

It was nice to chat with Larry about my favorite guitarists and my influences.

2) What is your strongest memory of the program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

My friend Carlo gathered around the radio with his wife and two sons and listened to it and said it was one of those old timey radio experiences for them, i thought that was sweet.

3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

Definitely! I think it's important for there to be context to our music - it's a fantastic opportunity to share where your coming from and can deepen peoples experience of your music.

4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

I'm sure that this raised my profile and spread my name to new audiences.

5) This program is made possible by our generous sponsor RBC Royal Bank who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

I would say thanks for making this possible! Jazz artists need all the coverage they can get and this is a great program.

6) Why is music education important?

Music education has become the ground upon which jazz artistry can continue to grow and thrive. The decline of a club scene and recording industry has put us there. Music classes provide the next generation with the essential experience of mentorship that is not happening on the bandstand so much.

7) Since participating in the Jazzology program, what have you been doing?

I finished my masters, have since studied privately with Adam Rogers, which was a great experience. I received a grant in 2011 to do a tour across Canada with my band, the Griffith Hiltz Trio. I played on Jill Barber's French language album Chansons and did a tour of Quebec in the fall of 2013 that was fantastic. I've become heavily involved in songwriting and received a FACTOR grant to record with Carlo Berardinucci, and have albums coming out with vocalists Beverly Taft and Whitney Ross Barris. I did an album with GHT that was produced by Hawksley Workman and a live record with my group Organic featuring Bernie Senensky.

8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

I've been really into Chet Atkins and Les Paul lately, if you can believe it. They're both great masters of the guitar and I find that learning their songs and solos helps me to understand the technique of the guitar on a more fundamental level then say lifting a contemporary jazz solo does. For Chet it’s The RCA Years and for Les it’s The Best of on Stardust.

9) What are your plans for the future?

I just completed a West coast tour with a great singer named Melissa Lauren at the end of March and a European Tour with Terra Hazelton in the Summer. I'm feeling the need to create new Nathan Hiltz record - all my projects since 2007 have been collaborative I'm feeling the need to put something out that is just me, you know?

10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?


Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.


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