BIO

 

     Jeff Gunn has always endeavoured to evolve his knowledge, compassion and music by immersing himself in culturally diverse and musically enriching experiences.  After taking up the guitar at the age of fourteen, he has drawn inspiration from the full spectrum of musical genres including rock, classical, jazz, Eastern European, electronic, reggae, calypso, Thai, Brazilian and African music.  While completing his BFA in Music and English, along with his BEd at York University in Toronto, Jeff had the privilege of studying under such Canadian greats as Lorne Lofsky, Phil Dwyer and Mike Murley.  During this period, Jeff played the Toronto circuit and beyond in rock bands, jazz quartets and duets, Big Bands, solo performances, and fusion groups, opening for such Canadian acts as Treble Charger, serving as the guitarist in Bulgarian fusion group Afrodisiac, and providing music in various capacities at such famous venues as Sassafraz, the atmospheric Gate 403, and the prestigious Royal York Hotel. He served as the guitarist in several Big Bands including Swing Shift and Big Smoke and had the opportunity to play numerous festivals including the internationally acclaimed Beaches International Jazz Festival and The Toronto Street Festival.  Jeff also played a range of interdisciplinary and interactive art shows with DJ’s and visual artists.

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     At the age of twenty-three, Jeff had the opportunity to record the album The Tradition Continues with Swing Shift on Palais Records, which continues to receive regular airplay on Canada’s premier jazz radio station 91.1 Jazz FM.  He also branched out and recorded on numerous electronic/house recordings with Jaie Tufford (Empire City Productions), which made its way to the UK, with soul/ hip hop group TRD (Top Cat Records), and with well-known Canadian hip hop artist and TV personality Michie Mee.

     After 10 years of playing in the Greater Toronto Area, Jeff had a thirst for travel in hope of expanding his musical experience and was given the opportunity to work as a solo guitarist on Princess/P&O cruise ships.  Here he would receive a worldly education beyond any academic setting.  Working with up to 45 different nationalities at any one time has broadened Jeff’s perception of the world beyond imagination.  Ships provided the perfect setting, which allowed Jeff to develop his musical skills by performing an array of music daily from classical pieces to The Beatles, from Indian ragas to originals of his own.  One of the greatest gifts was the chance to play with authentic reggae and calypso bands from Trinidad and Haiti, Blues and Jazz groups from New Orleans, and Latin music groups from Argentina and Columbia on a weekly basis, as well as backing up singers, variety acts and dancers, nightly.  Jeff has performed with such Motown artists as Johnny Thunder (The Drifters) and Eddie Holman, as well as Billy Johnson (Santana) and Chris Fredianelli (Third Eye Blind).

     Beyond the walls of the ship, Jeff made it his goal to experience as much of the local cultures as possible.  Ships provide what Jeff calls “dis-junctured travel”, which means that while you don’t remain in one location for more than three days, you go back to the same cities every seven or ten days and have the chance to experience different aspects of the city or country every time.  Whether it was receiving informal guitar lessons in Mexico, absorbing musical rhythms in Rio de Janeiro, watching a Gamelan performance in Indonesia, catching the hypnotic sound of Qur’anic verses as they carried across the air in Jordan, or wandering the crowded streets of Mumbai, these experiences have enriched Jeff’s own musical expressions. 

     Jeff continued to explore the wide world by taking the backpacker route and travelling throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. 

     The most important and influential location Jeff visited was Thailand.  He travelled the country in its entirety and decided to remain there while teaching at Music and English schools in Bangkok and Khorat.  The pulse of the country with its humility and devotion to its dominant religion (Buddhism), along with the striking architecture of its great temples and palaces captivated Jeff’s spirit.  He spent his evenings absorbing traditional and contemporary Thai music as it was performed at such venues as Daowung Dang (The Red Sun), which included a performance by the country’s most successful and politically-charged group, Caribao. 

     Thailand would not only inform Jeff’s musical development but also his spiritual development.  He had the chance to travel and stay with Buddhist monks at monasteries in the northeast of the country as well as in Laos, participate in a Thai wedding ceremony, and bear witness to a friend’s initiation into the monkhood.  One of the most powerful experiences of his life was crossing the border from Thailand into Cambodia.  There he was met with the pleading hands of starving children, which deeply impacted Jeff’s heart and mind.  The experience has since given a humanitarian purpose to his music.  Jeff feels it is the duty of all artists to not only uplift people’s spirits but to use their art form as a vehicle of transformation by channelling the financial rewards of one’s craft towards alleviating and altering the predicament faced by the poor in “developing” countries.  

     Eventually, Jeff decided to pursue his Masters in the UK at the prestigious University of Glasgow.  Studying Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies provided him with the opportunity to reflect and translate both the musical and cultural experiences he had had over the previous four years focusing on the historical, political, literary, and economic forces that have informed the modern configuration of the world he has been witness to.  While there, he continued to play shows in the UK and travel to various European destinations. 

     Jeff returned to his native Canada and after travelling to all seven continents and living in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America, he looks to inspire others with his music, which, in truth, carries the passion of his journeys.  During the spring of 2008, Jeff received an arranging credit for his version of Annie Lennox’s “Why” on the US label LML Music with recording artist Dwayne Britton ('Top Ten Vocal Albums of 2008' Talkin' Broadway/ 'Best Male Debut 2008':Stu Hamstra's Cabaret Hotline). The single is currently available on iTunes, Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble Bookshop stores across the US.  Jeff was also recently featured live on 89.5FM with singer/actress Kate Todd (Life With Derek). Jeff has also done session guitar work at some of Canada's best recording studios including Grant Avenue Studio and The Chalet. He recorded guitars on Morgan Sadler's song "Go On" which won "Best Song" at the Toronto Independent Music Awards in June 2010.   Jeff’s guitar tips and music travel articles, including “Finding a Place for Artificial Harmonics”, were featured nationwide in Canadian music magazine Muzik Etc. from 2008-2011.  He continues to hold a guitar tips column for The Guitar Magazine in Thailand.  His guitar book, entitled, Five Pieces for Solo Guitar is now being sold at music stores throughout Canada and Thailand. And, he has recently landed an international publishing deal with Mayfair Music for his forthcoming guitar method series Hidden Sounds.  Additionally, Jeff has written travel articles with Verge Magazine (available at Chapters and Indigo stores across Canada and some parts of the US) and fashion articles featuring Bangkok's hippest nightclubs as well as an interview with African guitar legend Oliver Mtukudzi with Toronto's premier online fashion magazine Fashion Studio 7 and YYZ Living.  

     From 2008 -2010, Jeff recorded and performed with the production team The Rezza Brothers.  They performed several singles live on CHIN/CityTV and TeleNorba (Italian TV) and had the opportunity to open for Italian pop stars Paolo Meneguzzi and Alan Sorrenti both in Toronto and on tour in Italy.  The Rezza Brothers continue to receive airplay on 100.7 FM and various radio stations in Rome. The Rezza Brothers had the opportunity to complete a music video for one of their singles ‘Gatta Nera’ in June 2009 - sponsored by CHIN.  The Rezza Brothers completed their debut album, entitled ‘Sound Revolution’, which is available for order at HMV (www.hmv.ca ), Chapters, Indigo stores throughout Canada both in store and online as well as on iTunes (worldwide) and Amazon.com. The Rezza Brothers' single 'Standing in the Rain' has been selected as the theme song for the dating agency Recruitment 4 Love website (www.r4linc.com). 

Highlights from their 2009 ‘Weekender Tour’, included performing concerts in Rome, Italy including a performance with the Italian version of the 'Big Brother' reality TV show, fashion shows in Toronto and the Versace (Versace/ Ducati Line) tribute concert in Montreal, shows in NY, and Jimmy Kimmel's annual concert in Hollywood, California.  They had the opportunity to write, record and produce songs with a variety of international artists including Rock N' Roll Hall of famer  DMC (RUN DMC), Tina Barrett (S Club 7), Beenie Man, and Doodlebug (Digable Planets) to name a few.  They also produced several tracks for Atlanta rapper Bonecrusher's forthcoming album and Jeff can be heard on his new single "Unstoppable."  

Jeff has landed multiple endorsements and is proud to represent Godin Guitars by playing his Multiac Nylon Duet Ambiance (http://www.godinguitars.com/endorsees.htm), D'Addario strings by using Classical EXP46 strings and New EXP110 Coated Electric strings (http://www.daddariocanada.com/artists.html), Levy's Guitar Straps by using his MP design strap, and Planet Waves by using the new American Stage Instrument Cable . Most recently, in 2015, Jeff landed a guitar pick endorsement with Gravity Guitar Picks and a guitar capo endorsement with G7th Capos.

 

         

Jeff is endorsed by Guataca Music Wear which promotes music education in schools throughout Canada and works closely with Music Counts.  He also supports and wears Brimz bracelets at his concerts who support the role of the arts in society.  Click the logos below to see more.

  

Jeff is currently carving his own path by performing shows with international artist Emmanuel Jal, the author of 'War Child' who performed at Peter Gabriel's "Africa Calling" (Live 8 Concert) and whose songs can be heard on the 'Blood Diamond' soundtrack. They began performing together in Fall 2010 at such venues as The World Bank and Capitol Hill in Washington DC.  Jeff had the pleasure of performing on Jal's "Canadian school tour" in February 2011, his Canadian Music Week show, his US "We Want Peace Mini-tour" in April 2011, and his 2011 Canadian Summer Tour from Quebec City to Vancouver. They performed at Festival d'ete de Quebec, the Hillside Festival and headlined at The Vancouver Folk Festival.  During the tour, Jeff had the opportunity to share the stage with Shad, Serena Ryder, Billy Bragg, and South Africa's Freshly Ground. He played  shows in Thailand improvising with DJ Celeste Siam and reggae band Rasta Monkey.  Jeff performed for former Governor General Michaelle Jean at a United Nations UNESCO sponsored event at the Harriet Tubman Institute in August 2011.  Jeff has recently been featured on the "Guitar Picks" TV show on Treasure HD hosted by Kim Mitchell with Kate Fair. He held his guitar tips column and music travel column with Canadian music magazine Muzik Etc from 2008-2011. 

Jeff has been featured several times nationwide in Canadian Musician magazine and he continues to write his guitar tips column for Thailand guitar magazine The Guitar Mag. Jeff had the opportunity to tour in Mexico, East Africa, the US, and Canada with Emmanuel Jal performing with DMC, Arrested Development, and Swizz Beatz, while opening for Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, and Feist.  Highlights included performing for the Dalai Lama at the One World Concert and performing at the Juba Peace Concert in South Sudan for Vice President Dr. Machar.  Jeff appears on guitar on Emmanuel Jal's new album See Me Mama (2012 Gatwitch/Universal) on the track "Lose to Win".   He has also been playing a series of shows with Canadian -Ghanaian artist  Kae Sun at venues, events and TV/Radio shows including MuchMusic, 2013 CBC Music Festival, Canada AM TV Show on CTV, 2013 CBC Canada Day Concert in Gatineau, CBC Garvey Bailey Radio Show, POP Montreal, Toronto Music Bicycle Festival, Virgin Mobile Indie Series,  TED Talks, Toronto Centre for the Arts,  Midem, and the Luminato Festival opening for such artists as K'naan, Nelly Furtado, Of Monsters and Men, and Whale Tooth.  Jeff appears on Kae Sun's new album Afriyie (Urbnet 2013).  

In 2013, Jeff had the opportunity to perform at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts as a part of the Grammy Museum's concert series in honor of Bob Marley with Emmanuel Jal. He also performed at the 2013 Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK. Jeff has recently been elevated to Emmanuel Jal's Musical Director for full band North American shows and he contributed guitars on the song "We Fall" which will be featured in the Hollywood film and on the soundtrack of The Good Lie (2014) featuring Resse Witherspoon and Emmanuel Jal.  Jeff also contributed guitars to the Peace Concert that Emmanuel Jal organized in Juba, South Sudan, which was recognized and honoured by The United Nations on December 18, 2013, when Emmanuel Jal received a UN Peace Award.

          Jeff served as musical director and guitarist on Jal's 2014-2015 The Key Tour in Canada, the UK and the US.  During this period, they opened for Nico & Vinz at the US Premier of The Good Lie (Warner Brothers) and opened for  Mumford & Sons, Ellie Goulding and Emile Sande at A War Child Concert in London UK. Jeff appeared on CBC, CTV, Much Music, Canada AM, Global TV, Good Day New York, Arise 360 and many more TV and radio shows during the tour. Jeff also performed at the Dresden Peace Prize Concert in Germany when Emmanuel Jal received the Dresden Peace Prize Award. 

          Jeff has been nominated for a 2015 Juno Award (World Music Album of the Year) for his guitar, songwriting and producing contributions to Emmanuel Jal's The Key (Gatwitch/Universal).  He co-wrote and produced 4 songs and appeared on a fifth song "We Fall".   The song "Yei" was filmed by refugees at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya with FilmAid in order to raise funds for their community and the song "Scars" which Jeff co-wrote with Nelly Furtado and Jal is featured on both The Key (Gatwitch/Universal) and The Good Lie (Warner Brothers) soundtrack.

 In support of his new guitar series Hidden Sounds: Discover Your Own Method on Guitar with Mayfair Music Publications, Jeff is currently delivering workshops across Canada, US, the Caribbean and South America at various music colleges and universities and such venues as Long & McQuade music stores, Indigo, Chapters, The Trinidad and Tobago Steel Pan and International Jazz Festival.