Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Keyboardist Gary Versace was able to rise to the top of the contemporary jazz scene in scant few years, yet the journey to prominence was hard fought and deservedly won. Born in Greenwich, CN April 25, 1968, his initial lessons came from his mother who was a vocalist and organist. Urged by his father to try the accordion, he instead gravitated to the piano, and eventually to jazz by high school. Versace took private lessons with Kevin Hays, studied at the Eastman School of Music where he attained his Masters in music performance, taught at the University of Oregon-Portland as a fully tenured professor in the jazz studies program for eight years, and performed a dual piano concert with Marian McPartland. During the latter period of his time in Portland, he adopted the instrument of his mother -- the organ -- then moved to New York City in 2002. In the ensuing years, Versace has become one of the most prominent, in-demand organ players in contemporary jazz, working with the Grammy-award winning big band of Maria Schneider, and the Nuttree Quartet with Jerry Bergonzi. The small ensembles he has worked with include fellow keyboardists Andy LaVerne and Frank Kimbrough, as well as John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Adam Nussbaum, Eliot Zigmund, Lee Konitz, Dick Oatts, Seamus Blake, John Hollenbeck, Tim Ries, Donny McCaslin, Rich Perry, Jonathan Kreisberg, Adam Rogers, Tom Guarna, John Ellis, Scott Wendholt, Steve LaSpina, Loren Stillman, Jason Marsalis, Joey Baron, Tom Rainey, Tony Reedus, Clarence Penn, Danny Gottlieb, Matt Perrine, Drew Gress, Brad Shepik, Peter Bernstein, Ingrid Jensen, and Joe Magnarelli.Versace earned three consecutive placings as a Rising Star in the Down Beat Magazine Critics Poll from 2006-2008. His debut for the Pony Canyon label was Winter Sonata in 2004, followed by Time and Again (2005), Many Places (2006), and Reminiscence (2007) for the Steeplechase label, and Outside In from Criss Cross records (2008). He's a prominent member of Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts quartet featuring Terrell Stafford and the late bassist Dennis Irwin.