Rhythm’s rewards

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Carmel grad to play at Jazz Kitchen as part of prestigious fellowship

By Chris Bavender

Patrick Wright was just 8-years-old when he picked up his first guitar – a half size acoustic one bought for $40 at a local music store. He hasn’t stopped playing since. That persistence has led to Wright, a junior at Butler University, being named one of four recipients of this year’s Indianapolis Jazz Foundation Fellowship Award.

“My dad played guitar, and I would watch him play and that really interested me a lot so I started playing,” said Wright, a Carmel High School graduate. “The more music I was listening to the more I wanted to stick with it. I would hear something on the radio or what my parents were playing and I would want to learn that music.”

Stuck with it

Wright started off playing blues and rock.

“I even got into heavy metal,” he said. “Then I eventually started to play jazz and have stuck with it.

There is just a certain virtuosity that surrounds jazz musicians that I am fond of. They are people who are trying to improve their craft. Part of it is being in the practice room and the other part is putting your name out there and really building a name for yourself and becoming the best musician you can.”

His credits the growth of his musical ability to that varied background.

“I really think everything has kind of accumulated up to one point because I have been listening to a lot of different styles and playing them so it is fairly easy for me to adapt to a musical situation someone might be asking for.”

Stay humble

His decision to attend Butler University was an easy one.

“I remember walking into my audition and feeling like they were legitimately interested in teaching me and helping me become a better musician,” Wright said. “I am surrounded by a lot of respected people here at Butler who let me know what I am doing well and what I need to work on.”

As part of the fellowship award, Wright will receive a $1,000 prize and play at the Jazz Kitchen Dec. 11 with the other honorees and local professional musicians. He plans to use his prize money for lessons or a new amplifier.

“Two of my professors encouraged me to apply, and when I found out I had won I was really surprised just because I was in competition with all the other jazz students around Indiana,” Wright said. “I feel like it’s a great accomplishment and I am just trying to stay humble about it.”

Dedicated to his craft

Wright was nominated by Butler’s director of jazz studies, Matthew Pivec, and is the fifth Butler recipient of the award in the past six years.

“I chose Patrick for a few reasons,” Pivec said. “He might have the best ‘set of ears’ of any musician I have taught. He has become increasingly dedicated to his craft, learning the jazz language from recordings of Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny and Jim Hall, among others. And Patrick has already shown an interest in, and aptitude for, jazz education. He has been a valuable teaching assistant in both the Butler Youth Jazz Program and the Butler Summer Jazz Camp.”

Wright, who is studying music – with a concentration in jazz studies – plans to attend graduate school and continue his music studies.

“I am shooting for the moon and trying to get into the best school I can,” he said. “My long term goal is to play music but I love teaching too. But, I think the thing that is closest to my heart is playing and I would like to make a profession out of it. It’s a risky thing but I am willing to take that chance.”

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