“Besides being a hard worker who constantly challenges himself as a musician, Gian also has an admirable approach to entrepreneurship with his various guitar-related businesses.” – Thaddeus Hogarth (Associate Professor of Guitar)
Gianlorenzo Galiano, a guitarist and 6th semester student at Berklee College of Music, has been a hard worker since he started working in his parents’ art studio at an early age. He grew up with American Blues and Italian vocal music played around his family’s home in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Guitar is Gianlorenzo’s true love, but it wasn’t his first.
“My family wasn’t musical. My sister started taking piano lessons when she was around 12 and I was 9. This was when I was first really introduced to music. I later took up both clarinet and bass clarinet when attending elementary and high school. Influences for my guitar playing were people from back home who have helped me develop my sound and taught me to stay true to myself and not get caught up in all the stuff going around Berklee, being the most technical. This one guy, Tony from back home, taught me everything there is to know about the blues. Blues was my calling!”
What music do you recall listening to at home?
“My dad always played records with Van Morrison, Lucio Dalla, Paolo Conte (a lot of Italian music), Bob Dylan and The Band, while working in the art studio. My parents are really into art. I worked on the rock pile from age 4, breaking up granite to make a floor. I would copy what my dad did: oil painting, marble carving, and construction. My dad never quits and works hard; there is always something going on around the house.”
When you got into guitar who were some your influences?
“Pre-Berklee, I was a blues-rock guy and listened to Derek Trucks, Joe Bonamassa, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters. Then, coming to Berklee, I got into a lot of jazz: Michael Brecker, John Scofield, Robben Ford, and Pat Metheny.”
Who were some of your teachers pre-Berklee?
“I was self taught but I had mentors such as Chuck D’Aloia, who is a great jazz and blues guitarist and session musician.”
What were your preparations coming to Berklee?
“I applied to three schools: Berklee, NYU, and Rutgers University. I made it into Rutgers with a decent scholarship, but I decided to come here because it is more contemporary. I was going to do Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” for my Berklee audition because I wanted to be more technical than I could physically be, but two nights before the audition I decided to do a solo arrangement of “Georgia On My Mind.”
Were you nervous for your audition?
“I was nervous at first, but the audition staff was really helpful. It’s funny because I sometimes work for auditions now. It’s great knowing that I can have an impact on people who audition here now; I have had people who auditioned and got in that I later got to help.”
You got into Berklee without a scholarship?
“Yes, but luckily my parents supported me and they didn’t want me going into construction like my dad.”
How was it when you started Berklee?
“I am a Performance major and Music Production and Engineering minor. I had no clue of what I wanted to do coming to Berklee. Late in my third semester, I declared Performance.”
Teachers you have studied with at Berklee?
“Daniel Ian Smith was my Harmony teacher for two semesters and for some other advanced classes. He had a great impact on my composition skills and a lot of tunes I have written were projects for his classes. Some guitar teachers are Thaddeus Hogarth and David Tronzo. Currently I am still studying with David Tronzo and with Scotty Johnson.”
Lately I have seen that you have been busy. Most recently you did a gig with comedian Sinbad?
“I submitted an application for Funk and R&B Guitar Showcase Night. Thaddeus Hogarth is in charge of it and he wanted me to submit for it, so I put together a band and couple of weeks later he asked if I also would be interested in playing in the Liberal Arts Symposium with Sinbad; I used the same band as for the Showcase, but with additional singers, since we did some Earth, Wind & Fire [charts]. My band had drums, keys, bass, [and] myself on guitar and alto saxophone. For the Showcase we played two covers, one being Roy Hargrove’s “The Joint,” and “The Octopus” by Rock Candy Funk Party, lead by Joe Bonamassa. For the Symposium we played Earth, Wind & Fire’s version of “Voodoo Chile” and “Shining Star.” Sinbad played some rhythm guitar for the concert. He’s the nicest guy; it was great to play at a Showcase with him.”