Saxophonist returns to his roots

The Lion's Roar/Megan Ferrando
Alumnus Zakk Garner took advantage of his time off beforereturning to graduate school to perform at two
universities. Garner spent countless days and nights in the Pottle Music Building growing in skill.
Garner also was part of a local band,Tyler Kinchen and the Right Pieces, during his time at Southeastern.

The life of a music undergraduate student usually involves long hours in the Pottle Music Building practicing, learning and possibly even sleeping. Freshmen begin their college studies, and soon receive that sought after diploma. Saxophonist Zakk Garner graduated from Southeastern’s music school in Fall of 2013. 

He is currently working towards his master’s degree in jazz studies on saxophone at Northwestern University in Chicago, but returned to his roots Wednesday, September 9 to perform original compositions and standards.

“This is where it all started for me so I wanted to give back, hopefully inspire someone like I was inspired by everybody that came through and put their time into me,” said Garner.

Many old friends and current students came out to hear Garner, who was joined by John Madere on bass, Justin Burdette on guitar and Joel Zobrist on drums.

Garner created the theme of “dedication” for his performance. Each song performed was dedicated to someone, including family members and renowned musicians.

“Without those people who love us and support us, we wouldn’t be anything. And it goes the same for our idols of course, like Charlie Parker. I wouldn’t know what I would be playing without them,” said Garner. “It’s the same for my family. I would be nothing without them. And of course on the other end of dedication is dedication to your craft, whatever that may be.”

Garner’s original compositions were dedicated to different family members, including his grandmother. For this song, Garner attempted to create a melody that fit his grandmother’s talkative personality.

“For the compositions for my family, I would try to personify them through music,” said Garner. “So I would take the quirks of their personality and I would try to find out how I could portray that musically.”

Garner’s alumni recital was the first time for many to hear his original compositions. 

“This is my first time hearing the stuff that he wrote and it was just fantastic. I loved it,” said Chance Ragan, local jazz musician and old classmate of Garner. “Listening to the music is almost as good as getting to see my buddy. The music was spectacular.”

Garner recently performed a concert and taught a master class at William Carey University in Mississippi before coming to Southeastern. He hopes to perform and teach at a college or university after receiving his masters and views these opportunities as a chance to learn and give back.

To young musicians who are currently where he once was, Garner encourages them to remain passionate and dedicated.

“Stay hungry for it. Go out; hear all the live performances you can. Reach out to people. Always just surround yourself with people that are better than you and do what you want to do. Because if you are around them, their wisdom will come to you,” said Garner. “Always be practicing. That was my thing; I would spend every night until one or two in the morning practicing when I was here. I had friends that would do the same thing. Always be practicing and check out music, and keep that hunger and fire for it.”