Originally from Calgary, but raised in the suburbs of Toronto, Gerry Shatford eventually found himself studying formal composition and classical piano at McGill University’s Faculty of Music in the late 1980’s, immersed in studies with many of Montreal’s most esteemed artists including John Rea, Brian Cherney, Bengt Hambraeus, Bruce Mather, Luba Zuk and Louis-Philippe Pelletier. It was during this time that he caught the jazz bug, hearing Bud Powell playing on a recording of “All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm” with Sonny Stitt and Max Roach. Later he participated in a series of jazz workshops conducted by the esteemed New York pianist Barry Harris. Gerry eventually transferred to the jazz performance programme at McGill, studying with Fred Henke, André White and Jan Jarczyk. He graduated with distinction in 1995, having and won numerous awards and scholarships including the Raymond Laliberté and Frank Mills prizes.
In 1996 Gerry relocated to Vancouver where he maintained a busy teaching schedule while performing regularly as house pianist at the Vancouver Club. Returning to the east in 2001 Gerry settled in Ottawa where he was instrumental in establishing Café Paradiso as an important venue on the Canadian jazz scene. In Ottawa Gerry worked with many of Canada’s finest jazz artists including Dave Turner, Mike Rud, Joel Miller, John Geggie, Kevin Dean, André White, George Evans, Heather Bambrick and Frank Lozano. He also co-ordinated and facilitated jazz workshops led by Barry Harris and vocalist Sheila Jordan, and performed with Sheila on a mini-tour with dates in Ottawa and Kingston.
It was during this period that Gerry began an important relationship with the American pianist and composer Stanley Cowell. Concurrent with his relocation to Toronto in 2008 to begin graduate studies in composition at York University, Gerry was mentored by Professor Cowell, a project that was generously supported by a Chalmers Professional Development Grant administered by the Ontario Arts Council.
At York University Gerry worked closely with Al Henderson and Barry Elmes, successfully defending his thesis “When I Sat Down to Play the Piano: Compositions Inspired by the Poetry of Al Purdy” in 2010. This work became the basis of a second Ontario Arts Council Grant (Popular Music Recording) which has allowed Gerry to realize his first full-length recording project.
Currently, Gerry resides in Toronto with his wife and son.