Humber musician plays unique instrument for classical Indian concert at Lakeshore

by | Oct 13, 2017 | A&E

Paul Schubert
Arts Reporter

Justin Gray has taught music at Lakeshore for six years, where he specializes playing the bass guitar, in particular one he co-created.

An Oct. 11 concert showcased his dedication to a style of music that blends Indian classical and Indo-Jazz songs with his unique guitar.

Gray made use of the Bass Veena during his performance, an original instrument he co-created with Canadian luthier Les Godfrey about eight years ago.

The duo designed and built the instrument after realizing the shortcomings of the bass guitar when performing Indian classical music. He is the first musician to perform with this instrument worldwide.

Gray said his work will share many different similarities and differences across all genres of music.

“I think that within any given genre of music, there are similarities that are going to cross all artists,” he said.

Gray discussed the importance of diversity in music and how his work will cater to students who have a more open-minded approach to life.

“They’d be jazz fans, world music fans, and potentially some folk instrumental music fans,” he said.

“They’d be someone looking for something fresh and also someone who is interested in the aesthetic beauty of a recording,” Gray said.

Mike Downes, head of the bass department at Humber College’s Bachelor of Music program, said Gray’s integration of music is moving and loves the group’s sound.

“Not many people have studied South Indian music to the extent that he has,” Downes said.

“He brings all of that knowledge and experience into his small jazz group playing,” he said.

Denny Christianson, chair of the Faculty of Music, described Gray’s music as “open and adventuresome.”

“Every group has its own different personality,” Christianson said.

“When Justin is in charge, it’s one that seeks to find a fresh way of approaching music as we know it,” Gray said.