Written by: Allison Del Fium
“I want the people who are listening to my music to enjoy being alive, to feel a sense of purpose in life.”
As I sit in the dimly lit “Jazz Station” found in downtown Eugene, I am surrounded and moved by the powerful sounds made by the night’s musical act. It is the trumpet player Tony Glausi that especially commands everyone’s attention. Maybe it is his put together look or his remarkable stage presence that pulls you in, but for most of my fellow audience members, it is his extraordinary musicianship that is so captivating. After the song finishes and the band takes a moment to breathe, the audience instantly goes wild. I can’t help but notice the look on Tony’s face as the crowd cheers. A wide, bright smile appears and he begins to laugh. In this moment, Tony is at one with his music and his audience.
Tony Glausi is a student at the University of Oregon but more importantly, he is a musical phenomenon. At the age of twenty-one, Tony has accomplished goals that some only dream of. He recently released his debut album entitled Identity Crisis and has worked and performed with respected jazz artists Dave Douglas, George Colligan, and many more. Tony is a student, but he lives a life far beyond most of his peers. His maturity, determination, and talent have set him apart within the Eugene music scene and beyond. His enthusiasm for music and life is contagious and he is someone that everyone has their eyes on.
Before the Jazz Station concert, I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Tony. We discussed his debut album, his musical influences, but most importantly his journey, with music and life. As we sat in a quiet corner within the depths of the University of Oregon’s music school, Tony seemed calm. He spoke with clarity and a sense of confidence about himself and began to tell me of his journey.
Tony’s connection with music started as soon as he could reach the piano bench and touch the keys. As a toddler, he began exploring the piano and sounding out melodies solely from ear. By the time he was four, he could play a hundred different song melodies – all from memory. Tony’s mother, a piano player herself, began formally teaching him at the age of six and he continues to play to this day. But it wasn’t until he was introduced to the trumpet at age ten that music really determined Tony’s destiny. As Tony expressed, “I fell in love with the sound and the look of the instrument. As soon as I started playing, I was in love with the feeling of it and all the colors I could get.”
As Tony grew up, his music not only continued to stay in his life, it blossomed. He began creating and composing music in elementary school and continued to mature as a musician throughout grade school. By the time he was a senior in high school he was playing paid gigs around the Portland area. The culture and the life of a musician became Tony’s world, one he fell deeply in love with. As Tony made clear, “I knew all the difficulties…it’s hard to make money, you’re busy on evenings and weekends, and schedules can be difficult. But that’s really what I liked about it.” As Tony began to pursue music as a career he continued his journey here at the University of Oregon.
Over the past four years the university has offered him many opportunities. Tony has spent his time learning, improving, and building upon his composition and performance skills. The university has opened up additional opportunities and he plays in numerous musical groups both on and off campus. He writes and performs with his own Jazz Quintet and 9-Piece funk band, Top Hat, the Eugene Composer’s Big Band, the Oregon Jazz Ensemble, and many more. Eugene has played a significant role in Tony’s personal life as well. During his freshman year Tony met the love of his life, Courtney, who is also an accomplished musician. They are now happily married and share the same passion for music. Being at the university has brought an enormous amount of inspiration to Tony and that is reflected in the creativity of his musical compositions. These compositions would eventually be gathered together to create Tony’s debut album Identity Crisis. This album not only sets Tony apart musically from his peers but it has also allowed him to reveal the honest story of his journey, musically and personally.
As Tony began to discuss his writing, he brings to the surface his most important ambition. Tony’s purpose of writing and playing music isn’t just to realize his desires, but also to inspire and give back to his listeners. He wants people to live a life full of excitement: excitement to be breathing, to have a mind, to have a soul, and to enjoy music. When describing his music Tony says, “I want the people who are listening to my music to enjoy being alive, to feel a sense of purpose in life.” As we discussed the reactions to his debut album and the album making process, he makes it clear that to him, making music is not just about the money or fame. It isn’t about creating an “okay” song and then promoting yourself so the entire world will hear your tune. To Tony, it is about something deeper and as he says, “it’s about really making music, for music. I want music to be a gift for the listeners.” For Tony, having his music make a connection is the ultimate reward.
As we talked more, it became clear he is a hundred percent fresh and honest. The tracks of Identity Crisis express his feelings about life, relationships, musical influences, his faith, and everything in between. He holds nothing back both artistically and personally throughout the entire album. Tracks such as “Something to be Remembered For” and “Reconciliation” stand out as being two identifying songs within Tony’s personal life. Everything Tony has tried to accomplish with music and to his audience is shown through Identity Crisis. And above all, the way he views his music and wants people to experience it is a rarity that many have caught attention to through this powerful album.
Tony Glausi is a musician who is helping to reshape the artistry of music. At a time when Jazz might be a dissolving interest for the millennial generation, Tony brings back an excitement for music, for sound, and for loving life that appealed to jazz aficionados generations ago. So as I sit in the back of the dimly lit room and listen to Tony play, this is what comes to mind: I think of my conversations with him, the way he so clearly and powerfully conveys his goals as a musician and as a person. I no longer just hear and enjoy the talent Tony possesses. Instead, I see the person behind the trumpet, a young man who is slowly but surely, song by song, changing the world with his music. I see the soul of Tony Glausi.