Smooth Jazz Hands
Posted by Chase Sanborn

JazzHands2Recent jazz grads Anthony Argatoff, Chris Platt, Victor Vrankulj and Andrew Miller are profiled in U of T News.

The looseness of jazz improvisation is “like talking and having a conversation… just with instruments. It offers a lot of creativity and freedom,” says alto saxophonist Anthony Argatoff.

Graduation is fast approaching but he and fellow graduates Victor Vrankulj (jazz bass) and Andrew Miller (jazz drums) are looking towards the future and the CD release party for their avant-garde/improvised music ensemble Bellwether4 in December in Hamilton, Guelph and Toronto.

Why the Hammer and Guelph? Well, it turns out they have humming improv jazz scenes, says Argatoff. Much like where he hails from in Kelowna, B.C.

On November 7, his family will be in the office to cheer him on as he officially receives his Bachelor of Music in Performance. He’s enjoyed the four-year jazz program so much his own brother (tenor sax) is now taking it, too, as well as a growing number of fellow Kelownians.

“It’s a really special place. I’m just really grateful I came here,” says Argatoff. There is always a community of musicians at U of T ready to hang out and play “all the time” and the professors, who are professional musicians themselves, are always available to talk anytime and offer advice.

“The faculty was outstanding with lots of one-on-one opportunities,” agrees fellow fall graduand and jazz guitarist Christopher Platt, who switched to U of T after studying jazz performance at Mohawk College with Vrankulj.

For Platt (below), the path to jazz started when he first picked up a guitar at the age of 12. At first the blues had him in their grip with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan among his favourites.

“But I just wanted to consume more and more music and jazz was the next obvious step for me. I just kept going deeper down the rabbit hole,” he says, naming American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery as a strong influence on his playing.

Now, he lists Brazilian jazz as his latest musical obsession. “So much of it is so sad and some is quite joyous. I like the sad stuff,” says Platt.

Like Argatoff, he’s focused on finding gigs through his website and has several side projects on the go with various musicians around the city.

“Toronto is the place to be in Canada [for jazz]. In the states, it would be New York… but New York just seems to be so… like Toronto on steroids,” he says with a laugh, noting a lot of people he knows have gone down to the Big Apple to test their chops. He may do it at some point, but he’s in no rush to leave the community network of musicians he’s built up here.

As for his time at U of T, “I don’t get tied to nostalgia. When it’s over, I kind of leave it in its place.”

The he adds: “I’ll miss this. You’re just consumed by music all the time. You’re constantly rehearsing and having jam sessions late into the night… You can only really get that by going to school.”

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