Topaz McGarrigle was the first to realize that 6th Street was the center of musical activity in Austin, TX. He began performing on his tenor-saxophone to get tips from passersby and he continued to push the boundaries of his musical vocabulary in pursuit of his dream of becoming a jazz musician for New York City. His phrasing and cool, soulful feelings, as well as his rhythmic energy, helped to define his musical identity. Topaz, his jazz band, was formed in New York City in 1997. Although the group was a distant dream when McGarrigle first stepped foot on Austin’s streets to perform, it has been the culmination of a long musical journey. Topaz has been defeated by all odds. Topaz arrived in New York shortly after the peak of acid jazz, and following a revival in interest in electric music by Miles Davis. In 2000, jazz was a smaller market than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Major labels dropped many of the younger lions from the ’80s and the ’90s to make way for hip-hop and rock. Listen!, Topaz’s second album, was released in 1999. It was a triumph because of its unique beauty. McGarrigle listened to all kinds of music growing up in Austin. McGarrigle grew up listening to the music of Hamza El Din, and his father repaired and built American folk instruments. He learned from his mother an appreciation for Texas jazz fusion saxist Kirk Whalum. This experience brought him to Jean-Luc Ponty, and David Sanborn. He continued his exploration of jazz and discovered the music of Lou Donaldson (John Coltrane), Sonny Rollins (Charlie Parker), and Miles Davis. He spent a year studying abroad in England in his senior year of high school, 1990. This placed him in the middle of the vibrant acid jazz scene in London and the Brand New Heavies. McGarrigle was influenced by Stanley Turrentine and John Coltrane. McGarrigle returned to the States to continue his studies in music in 1991. He attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Washington, D.C., to learn more about orchestration. He performed in the Dead-inspired band Amalgamate as well as in the acid jazz ensemble Exodus during his time in Washington, D.C. He arrived in New York City in 1994 to study music and liberal art at New York University. He met Takuya Nakamura, Squantch, Squantch (trumpet, synthesizer), Squantch, Tewar (guitar and sitar), Tewar (guitar and viola), Justin Wallace, Ethan White (keyboards), Ernesto Abreau, Phelim White, (percussion) at Topaz. They started performing Fridays at the Bell Cafe in TriBeca, New York City. After a while, they were offered gigs at Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom. He listened to Listen! recorded in Phillip Glass’ old studio at TriBeca, New York City, Velour Recordings, in 1999. He referred to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, and Live/Evil. He also showed his admiration for Middle Eastern music’s melodicism. The vibrant energy of Brazilian music and its gentle, romantic romance were both evident. He explored the hypnotic rhythms of acid jazz, the splattering beats drum’n’bass, as well as John Coltrane’s spirituality in a mix of rich textures and colorful orchestral hues. Allmusic

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