The current, followed by the beginning, followed by the future…
Winnipeg born, Vancouver based guitarist/composer Jeff Younger is one of the busiest, most interesting and original musicians in Canada. Prone to rampantly tasty guitaristic diversity, deadly serious compositional tendencies, and lawless sprees of sonic expressionism, he’s been called “the mad scientist of the electric guitar” and “Vancouver’s own Frank Zappa”.
A leading figure in Vancouver’s contemporary jazz and improv scene, Jeff is an in demand composer, performer, collaborator and educator. He leads some of the city’s most exciting and adventuresome projects, including voracious modern jazz monster The Unsupervised, the entirely improvised solo guitar w/ electronics Jeff Younger’s Devil Loops, the fearlessly playful Sawhead Trio, and the 10-piece chamber/improv ensemble Nocturnal Puddle Reflections. The Unsupervised has been nominated for the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival’s Grand Prix du Jazz Award and Galaxie Award for Composition, and Younger has been twice previously been nominated for The Vancouver International Jazz Festival’s Galaxie Rising Star Award. Jeff is one of the city’s busiest and most inspired performers, mischievously leads Vancouver’s most hilariously inappropriate country band The Family Stump, and has been know to sing a heart wrenching ballad or two when the spirit takes him.
He has worked extensively as both instrumentalist and composer within the Vancouver dance community, as featured soloist for Ballet BC, Out Innerspace Dance Theatre, and Ruckus Company Productions, and has received major composition commissions from Ballet BC’s Donald Sales (2011), Out Innerspace (2010) and Ruckus (2007, 2008, 2009), with whom he also served as musical director. As a composer, Younger freely roams the worlds of contemporary classical music, modern jazz and expressionistic sound design, and is happy to blast out quirky rock songs and twisted country twangers. He is a prolific recording artist, and his body of work is continually expanding and evolving, fuelled by a rare creative spark and a tireless work ethic. Jeff is also a busy curator. His monthly series at Vancouver’s storied Raliway Club is in its 5th year of production, he regularly books the creative leaders in Vancouver’s music community in venues all over town, and has also presented international artists like New York’s Tony Scherr and James Ilgenfritz, San Francisco’s Jacob Felix Heule, Tony Dyer and Ava Mendoza, and Ireland’s Andy White. Whenever not deep in the throes of musical adventure, Younger searches out strong coffee to drink, science books to read, and mountains and trails to run up and run down.
Now, how did this all begin?……..
Jeff Younger seemed like a normal little kid. Something happened along the way…
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and adopted into a wonderfully loving family at the tender age of 14 months, Jeff grew up in the conservatively beating heart of prairie suburbia. When it became evident that shoveling snow and cutting the grass was not a high priority on the youngster’s agenda, eyebrows began to raise. His genetic coding remains a mystery, but it was evident from the beginning that he was “a little bit different” than the other kids, with velcro straps on their shoes and frostbite on their earlobes.
A handful of important events would profoundly influence the development of the young artist. At some point during elementary school, he attended a school Christmas Concert during which a choir performed holiday favorites for the festively assembled masses. The melodies and the sound of the voices made him feel funny on the inside, and for the first time he realized that music spoke to him in a profound way. He was an integral member of the recorder club until around grade 5, when he realized that the only thing less cool than being in the recorder club was ratting out the other kids in the recorder club who didn’t practice their parts.
He quickly abandoned the world of plastic noisemakers into which you blow, and expressed an interest in playing the drums. His parents immediately quashed this noisy notion, but at the age of 11 his mother dragged him to his first guitar lesson. His sister protested that it would be just the latest in a long series of things he did for a week and then hid under his bed (the comprehensive list of these activities has been sealed by The Courts), but sometimes it’s nice when big sisters get to eat their words.
Jeff immediately took to the guitar, practiced constantly, and quickly graduated from “Ode To Joy” on the 1st string into the sweaty world of ROCK’N’ROLL. Soon to follow was a growth spurt (for his hair), a tightening of his jeans, and an ascension into the fist-pumping world of HEAVY METAL. He transcribed all the hits, learned a bunch of cool licks, and vaulted himself into the realm of the INSTRUMENTAL ROCK GUITAR VIRTUOSO not long after. He spent weeks on end shedding Steve Vai and Joe Satriani solos and abusing his whammy bar. All the while, he was writing quirky music to amuse himself and feed the creative monsters that would guide the rest of his life. During this period, a good friend of his mother’s, to whom he will forever remain indebted, took him to see a NEW MUSIC concert. After picking his jaw, ears and brain up off the ground, the leather-jacketed teenager regularly attended any new music concert he could find. This music spoke strongly to the young fingertapper, and had a huge impact on his musical development. Then he saw Bill Frisell in concert and was never quite the same…
In August of 1999, Jeff moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and hit the ground running. In September of 2000, he entered the highly regarded Capilano University Jazz Studies Program, and completed his studies in December 2006, earning a Bachelor of Music Degree. Majoring in modern classical composition, with a strong secondary emphasis on jazz guitar, Younger presented an entirely individual, artistic statement in the form of a 2 ½ hour long graduation concert of all original music. Boldly smashing the constricting boxes inherent in musical academia, it was indeed “a little bit different” from anything the program had ever seen, and inspired future generations of graduates to push the boundaries of the expected and the required.
The adventure, as they say, is only just beginning.