A changing music industry has given Ahwatukee Foothills musician Pete Gitlin exposure he never thought was possible before.
“Internet radio gives me access, as an artist in Ahwatukee and playing in the Phoenix area, to the whole world,” Gitlin said. “Through iTunes it’s amazing to see how many downloads I get through Japan and Europe… It’s a huge change. It used to be maybe I’d get played on a radio station in Phoenix and you might hear me as far as Casa Grande, but now I’m being played on the Internet and it’s all over the world. It’s a thrill to be a part of.”
Gitlin just released his second jazz CD, this one titled “Amplify.” Through stations over the Internet Gitlin has heard his songs played in various countries around the world and has made it to the top of the Smooth Jazz Now Top 50 chart two weeks in a row.
Gitlin has been involved with music since the age of 5. He started with piano, learned banjo at age 7, and eventually moved to guitar at the age of 8. He was playing in rock bands for church and school functions at 13 years old. When he moved to Phoenix in 1999 from the Boston area, he picked up bass and began playing jazz with a group of people every Thursday night at Pita Jungle in Chandler.
“I just really enjoyed jazz,” Gitlin said. “I enjoyed the freedom of it. At some point, you can’t be playing screaming rock ‘n’ roll your entire life. It felt like there was a lot of room for creativity I could express.”
Gitlin released his first CD, produced by John Herrera, in April of 2007, after leaving his job as vice president of business development at Avnet. He took another sales job for a few years before deicing to take the plunge and focus solely on music.
“It makes your soul sing,” Gitlin said. “It’s when I’m most to myself, when I’m playing. People see me and I usually have either a very intense look or a very happy look on my face. Sometimes it’s that really intense look and in fact I’m really happy. You can totally be in the moment. When you’re playing music there’s no thought to what bill needs to be paid or the other tensions of life. It’s just moments of complete and total freedom.”
The jazz Gitlin plays is influenced by the rock he grew up playing. He hopes his newest CD takes listeners on a musical journey.
“I think the genre has gotten a bad reputation over the years of being almost muzak,” Gitlin said. “It’s pleasant but it’s not challenging. I’m trying to take a different route by really putting some different kinds of music on there… There are songs with horns, songs that are more soul, there’s a song that sounds more like country and one song with more distorted guitar you might hear from a rap song, but it all hangs together as one work.”
Gitlin continues to play his jazz music every Thursday night at Pita Jungle in Chandler, 1949 W. Ray Road, beginning at 7 p.m. For more information on his music or his new CD, visit petegitlin.com.
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