- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) - George Whitty is coming home.

The Marshfield High School grad, who won an Emmy award last year (to go with his four Grammy awards), is bringing his prodigious talent to the historic Egyptian Theatre stage on Feb. 7.

It will be his first solo concert in his hometown, although he did return once with Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s band, in 1987, before performing with his own trio, in 2009, at the OIMB boat house, as part of the Oregon Coast Music Festival.

This concert is going to be unique for other reasons, as well. That is because it will provide an opportunity to actually watch a jazz musician go through the creative process, live.

“This one is unusual in that it’s just me and a battery of synthesizers doing a solo show that sounds like a group performance. I build up each piece, one element at a time, then play some jazz over the top of each one.”

During a recent phone interview, he described how the format has been received overseas.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I wasn’t sure people were going to want to watch this process, but playing in front of some audiences in Europe, the people just loved it. Essentially, it’s like instantly producing a track. It’s what you would expect to see in a studio if you were using a whole band to produce a track.”

Whitty, whose family still lives in the area, first conceived the idea of this concert as a way to bring his young family home for the holidays. That plan ended up becoming slightly delayed, so the musician did what he does best and improvised.

He has, in some ways, made his living off that particular musical skill.

A professional musician for three decades now, Whitty has become a jack of all trades and a master of many.

He has played with Carlos Santana (on his “Supernatural” CD, with Dave Matthews), Celine Dion (“Falling Into You,” and “These Are Special Times”), Chaka Kahn, Herbie Hancock (live and on recordings), David Sanborn, and a bunch of others.

Whitty has also produced four Grammy-winning CDs, and last year’s Emmy came for his work composing music for the daytime drama “All My Children.”

Now, he is putting all of those talents together as he works on his first solo CD, one that he expects to put out later this year.

It is, he said, a CD that is 15 years in the making. But, it could also be said to have been in the works much longer, even dating back to when he first turned his attention to music here in Coos Bay.

Growing up in the Bay Area, he believes, gave him a certain level of security to be able to find, and then follow, his dreams.

“Coos Bay was a place that was where, I felt, anything could happen. (Music) was my hobby, my passion, the same way other kids had football. You were able to feel that, you know, anything was doable.”

His parents fostered that love of music, while some great piano teachers helped him form a solid musical base as he hit his teenage years and went to Marshfield.

“The high school music program with Dave Aakre was really great,” Whitty said. “(Aakre) had a thriving program that was really a haven for me.”

But, there wasn’t a lot of jazz instruction available at that time. That love started taking form simply by listening to jazz music.

Herbie Hancock was one of his early influences, and one he recently shared the stage with at the Hollywood Bowl.

“That was great. Herbie has always been one of my heroes, so to get to play alongside was just unbelievable.”

While that concert was certainly memorable, Whitty said he is excited about the opportunity to play at the Egyptian next week.

“The Hollywood Bowl is a whole different trip. The audience is about a hundred feet away and it’s a giant stage. So it’s almost more isolated to be on a stage like that.

“The Egyptian is just about the right size for me. It’s incredibly beautiful. Really, the ideal size for what I’m planning to do. Just the ability to see people in the audience and get feedback is pretty big, too.”

A musical concert is an interactive experience, the art of creating on stage, and it is one he is hoping his hometown will come out to enjoy along with him.

“As a musician, you really appreciate people dragging themselves out to see you perform. And, with jazz, you never get the same thing twice. The tune can get reinvented on the spot. That’s the reason we all play; it’s that thrill of reinvention.”

You can experience that thrill of reinvention for yourself, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7.

Tickets for George Whitty: A Night At The Egyptian are $12, $7 for students, and are available at Books By The Bay and online at www.gwhitty.com .

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Information from: The World, https://www.theworldlink.com

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