Gui Duvignau is a bass player and composer who was born in France and raised in Brazil. His multi-cultural background has led to a life of traveling and musical exploration. As a jazz musician, he also draws inspiration from his experiences performing rock, Brazilian and ‘world’ music, as well as his studies in contemporary music. His first album Porto, in collaboration with singer Sofia Ribeiro, was inspired by his time living in Portugal. His second album Fissura was inspired from his years in Paris. One critic described Gui's performance in Porto this way: "He plays with soaring melodicism, sometimes flying so high it feels he could touch the sky."
We asked him how his education has shaped his artistry.
You attended Berklee College of Music as an undergraduate. Why did you decide to pursue an education in the United States rather than in Brazil?
I had originally planned to stay in Brazil for my undergraduate studies but there were very few options of schools with bachelor degrees in anything other than classical music at the time. Most were conservatory-type music schools, and my interest was primarily in jazz. I wanted to have the option to study and perform jazz but also other types of music and Berklee seemed to be the place for that.
The fact that NYU is in New York City was definitely one of the reasons for my choice, as there really is no other city for jazz.
Next year you will graduate NYU with a master's in jazz studies. Why did you decide to continue your education here?
I was very young when I attended Berklee for my bachelor’s degree and I rushed through it, so I have always wanted to go back to school. I felt then, and still feel, that I have much to learn as a performer and as a composer. Also, in addition to the personal growth that comes from an immersive period of study like the one NYU offers, I found myself in situations where having a master’s degree would be advantageous and could lead to different teaching opportunities.
The fact that NYU is in New York City was definitely one of the reasons for my choice, as there really is no other city for jazz. I was also drawn by the faculty at Steinhardt, and the jazz studies program, specifically, which I believe is among the best.
What do you do on a typical day? What does a week look like for you?
A typical week for me includes teaching, attending classes, practicing, composing, rehearsing, and occasionally performing. I also try to go to at least one concert a week if I can. A typical day is a mix of those elements, and finding a balance between them is always a challenge for me. Luckily, I think these areas integrate pretty well with my studies and I find that every music-related activity I engage in helps my personal studies in some way. Becoming a better teacher teaches me how to be a better student, performing informs my compositions, and so on…
A typical week for me includes teaching, attending classes, practicing, composing, rehearsing, and occasionally performing. I also try to go to at least one concert a week if I can.
What's been the best part of your education at NYU?
The best part of my education has been the contact I have had with the jazz department faculty. All the teachers I had were incredible, world-renowned musicians, and to have the chance to interact and learn from them has been very special.
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