Gary Carner Biography   (home)  



















  Born in New York City in 1955, Gary Carner first heard jazz at home in suburban New Jersey. “When I was four, my mother subscribed to a record company mail order program--I think it was with RCA--so a new LP came every month,” said Carner. “She was also friends with a record store owner in nearby Englewood, and that was the time when they used to play records in the store for you so you could decide if you liked it. My mother loved to dance,” Carner continued, “particularly to Latin music, and I remember hearing a lot of Cal Tjader and Stan Getz, yet I was especially drawn to swinging jazz records she played, especially Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue with Stanley Turrentine, by far the most significant early influence on me.” After growing up in Teaneck, Carner left for college in Minnesota, where he met future Blue Note GM Tom Evered. “Much of my early jazz listening was when I was an undergraduate at Macalester College,” said Carner. “Tom Evered had an enormous jazz collection and he let me borrow anything I wanted. For years, I immersed myself in jazz, and, thanks to Tom, I got a really great foundation.”

Carner took a leave of absence and traveled abroad before resettling in New York. “Traveling in Europe for seven months was a huge turning point for me,” said Carner, “because I left college not knowing what I wanted to do, but I found myself going from city to city, visiting jazz clubs. After a while I finally noticed the tendency, so moving back to New York made the most sense.” From 1978-1985, Carner studied music and listened to a lot of jazz. “I lived most of that time in New Jersey. Gulliver’s (in West Paterson) was an important jazz club at that time, and I heard a lot of great players there,” said Carner. “I was also very fortunate to finish my degree at Fairleigh Dickinson University, because there I met my first significant mentor, guitarist John Varner, with whom I studied privately for seven years. Professor Varner taught me a lot more than how to play an instrument,” added Carner. “He taught me the subtleties of music, the things that make music really special, such as phrasing and dynamics--terraced dynamics, how to arch phrases, how phrases breathe and resolve. Even in some truly great jazz soloists today, this seems to be completely absent.”   (more)