Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Hagberg, Garry

Hagberg, Garry, guitarist, educator, author; b. Medford, OR, 22 December 1952. Raised in Grants Pass and Myrtle Creek Oregon by his father (Louis Hagberg) and mother  (Marilynn Hagberg, born Sherlock), playing with his brother (Terry Hagberg) in a frequently-performing dance band and other ensembles during his early teenage years and then in the Jazz Band of South Umpqua High School, where his early musical studies in both jazz and classical guitar were encouraged by music educator Wendell Ellefson and guitar teacher Tommy Thompson.

He began studies at the University of Oregon in 1971, majoring in both classical and jazz in the School of Music, while playing regularly in an improvising jazz-rock band called "American Frog", which performed in clubs, concerts, and some stadium and festival dates (and, nervously, the occasional motorcycle-gang party) in the Pacific Northwest.

By 1972 he had turned much of his attention to jazz guitar, while continuing classical lessons with the prominent Northwest guitarist John Jarvie and continuing classical study in the School of Music, and played in the big bands as well of both the University of Oregon and nearby Lane Community College (led by well-known jazz educator, conductor, and bassist Gene Aiken before his departure to the University of Northern Colorado to develop its well-known jazz program), along with many other small ensembles from duos to septets playing in various venues including clubs and concerts (and on at least one visit the Oregon State Penitentiary, bringing jazz to a truly captive audience).

In 1973 he went to Boston to study jazz improvisation, harmony, analysis, history, and guitar performance (with William Bresnahan) at the Berklee College of Music, performing in various ensembles there, followed by a return to the University of Oregon to complete the B.A. with a triple major in music, philosophy, and psychology a few years later. He spent the academic year 1974-75 studying music, the history of the arts, and cultural history in Stuttgart, Germany, playing in a number of classical recitals (with Lauren Newton, among others, and meeting jazz guitarist and close friend Thomas Horstmann, with whom he was to record and perform twenty-five years later), returning to Oregon to pursue graduate degrees in philosophy in the subsequent years. During this time, in addition to studying philosophy and particularly aesthetics, he taught jazz guitar extensively, and also courses on Jazz Analysis and Improvisation, Twentieth-Century Music and Aesthetics, and the History of Musical Aesthetics in the School of Music and in the Honors College of the University of Oregon, holding various appointments from 1978 to 1985.

In these years he played with numerous ensembles in Eugene, Portland, Seattle (with pianist Dave Peck among others), San Francisco, and many other locales throughout the Northwest, was the subject of a profile article by author and trombonist Mike Heffley in the Eugene Observer, and played numerous radio broadcast sessions, appeared as a guest on radio programs examining the work of jazz guitarists (e.g. Jim Hall), and worked in various recording studios. Ensembles during this time included the Garry Hagberg Trio, Quartet, and Quintet; the Hagberg/Bergeron Quartet; the Dowd/Kammerer Quintet; Carl Woideck's Le Jazz Hot; the Steve Wolf Quintet (with varying membership including vocalist Nancy King and bassist David Friesen); the Barton/Hagberg Guitar Duo (with small tours of Germany in 1980 and 1982 with live recordings for broadcasts by the South German Radio); and the Dan Siegel Group (comprising at that time pianist Siegel, Hagberg, drummer Gary Hobbs, and bassist/violinist Rob Thomas), with which he recorded three albums (one as featured artist; another with guest guitarist Lee Ritenour on board), one of which he first heard in completed form (having departed for study in Cambridge and Oxford the morning after finishing his tracks) on the jazz channel of the airplane coming home a year later.

In 1985 Hagberg moved to the East Coast, holding teaching appointments at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and New York, and his post-doctoral work has been supported by The National Endowment for the Humanities (in philosophy and aesthetics at Cambridge University, the British Library London, and the Institute for the Theory and Criticism of the Visual Arts, in both music and literature at Dartmouth), and by the Folger Institute of Renaissance and Eighteenth-Century Studies in Washington, D.C. among many others. In 2002 he was named the James H. Ottaway Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he has taught since 1990, and in 2000 he introduced the interdisciplinary course "The Art of Jazz" into the curriculum, combining jazz history, criticism, analysis, ear training, and aesthetics. He has written fairly extensively in aesthetics, including two volumes relating the philosophical writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein to music, the arts and aesthetics (Cornell University Press, 1994 and 1995), along with numerous articles in professional journals and collections. Howard Roberts, from early on, was by far, and remains, the biggest influence on Hagberg as a guitarist.

Since 2000, Hagberg has been performing and recording with the German-based  "Atlantic Jazz Trio", with guitarist Thomas Horstmann and bassist Peter Schoenfeld (atlanticjazztrio.net;), and is also presently working on CD projects with the Hagberg/Bergeron Quartet among others. He guest-edited a special issue of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism on "Improvisation in the Arts" in 2000, and has written on jazz and improvisation for a number of reference works, conference symposia, and journals. In addition to relations between philosophy and music, he has a long-standing interest in the connection between philosophy and the literary arts, and in 2002 became Editor, with Denis Dutton, of the journal Philosophy and Literature. Hagberg has a daughter, Eva May Hagberg, now 20, and he was married to Julia Rosenbaum, an art historian, in August 2003.

Dan Siegel: Night Ride (1980), The Hot Shot (1981), Reflections (1983); The Kammerer/Dowd Jazz Quintet: Reunion (1984); The Atlantic Jazz Trio: First Meeting (2001), Some Other Time (2002); The Hagberg/Bergeron Quartet: Jobim Now (2003), In the Moment (2004) 

Bibliography (selected):
The Guitar Compendium: Technique, Improvisation, Musicianship, Theory, Volumes I-III, with Howard Roberts (Germany: Advance Music, 1989, 2nd ptg. 1993, 3rd ptg. 1996, 4th ptg. 2000); reviewed Guitar Player Magazine, 1990; IAJE Journal (International Association of Jazz Educators), 1991, and others.
"On Representing Jazz: An Artform in Need of Understanding", Philosophy and Literature Vol. 26, No.1: 188-198 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); delivered at meetings of the American Society for Aesthetics, 2001.
"The Aesthetics of Jazz Improvisation", Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, ed. Michael Kelly (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 479-82; delivered at meetings of the American Society for Aesthetics, 1998.
"Music and Imagination", Philosophy, Vol. 61, No. 238: 513-17 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); delivered at the International Association for Aesthetics, 1984.


Contact information:
845-758-7270 (at Bard College)

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