Walter Gorra finds his jazz note, ‘In Due Time’
August 30, 2018
A passion that began early for Glenwood Springs' own Walter Gorra has taken him to the heights that most aspiring musicians dream of.
"I really enjoyed growing up here, I'm an avid fly fisherman, I like hiking and rafting," said jazz musician Walter Gorra. "I enjoyed the valley, the community is very supportive."
Gorra, the oldest son of Adolfo and Paula Gorra, both structural engineers in Glenwood Springs, first attended St. Stephen Catholic School before finishing at Glenwood Springs High School.
At the ripe old age of 9, he started taking piano lessons from local teacher Joy Steffen.
“Every since I started, I have liked the ability to change the music every time I played – it’s the improvisation.”
— Walter Gorra.
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"I got involved in Jazz Aspen Snowmass, and later I was in the jazz band at Glenwood High School," said Gorra, who added he became involved in as many music things as he could get his hands on.
Gorra started writing and composing his own music at 15.
"I really like being able to hear the different variations of instruments," Gorra said.
"Ever since I started, I have liked the ability to change the music every time I played — it's the improvisation," Gorra said.
Music is just one of his loves. When he wasn't playing the piano or writing, Gorra was working with his parents learning structural engineering from the ground up.
"I helped build a place in Paonia while I was in high school, ran the heavy equipment and everything," Gorra said.
A 2011 Boettcher Scholar, Gorra attended the University of Colorado at Boulder after high school, where he double majored in jazz piano and civil engineering.
During his time in Boulder, Gorra immersed himself in his music, making connections with other musicians and forming the Walter Gorra Quartet.
With Gorra on the piano, Gonzalo Teppa on the bass, Greg Tanner Harris on the vibraphone and Manuel Lopez behind the drums, the group played Gorra's original music and arrangements and old standards.
"The ability to change the music on the spot, reacting to the people that are playing with you," Gorra said. "It's different every time."
Walter led the quartet in a two-month residency at Nocturne Jazz and Supper Club in Denver in 2016. While working on his master's degree in structural engineering, Gorra and his quartet hit the studio with seven original compositions and one Cuban bolero. The quartet was able to knock out the studio session in eight hours.
The result is the group's first music album release, "In Due Time."
"I was very fortunate, I applied for a grant to help pay for studio sessions," Gorra said.
Gorra moved to New Jersey in the fall of 2017 to pursue a master's degree in jazz composition and arranging at William Paterson University.
After two years producing and perfecting it, Gorra's debut album was released Aug. 1, while he was spending the summer working as EIT structural designer in Glenwood Springs with his dad's structural engineering firm, Glenwood Structural and Civil, Inc.
With his full work schedule, Gorra music performances were few this summer, but he and his quartet got together to play at KUVO Jazz's Phyllis A. Greer Performance Studio two weeks ago in Denver to mark the release of the album.
"It was a busy summer, I'm heading back to school this weekend, but hope to play more gigs soon," Gorra said.
Gorra has played his original music at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York City, the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival, the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival San Juan, Telluride Jazz Festival, and at the Five Points Festival in Denver.
After Gorra graduates in the spring, he is considering staying in New York, trying to meet as many people as possible, and get the word out.
To check out the album, keep up to date on upcoming shows and find more information on Water Gorra, visit waltergorra jazz.com.
"This is always home," said Gorra about Glenwood Springs.