Parallel Lives
Suzuki and the Art of Improvisation and Jazz

September 10, 2020, ASJ 48.4
Topics: , , , ,

American Suzuki Journal 48.4

Previously printed in American Suzuki Journal 48.4. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2020 Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Gwen Laster- is a nationally acclaimed musician. A recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jubilation foundation, Puffin foundation, Arts Mid Hudson, Lila Wallace and the Cognac Hennessey 1st place Jazz Search. She’s a native Detroiter whose influences come from the Motor City’s urban and classical music culture. Gwen’s love for improvising is rooted from her parents love of jazz, blues, soul and classical music and her inspiring music teachers from Detroit’s public schools.

Laster relocated to NYC after earning two music degrees from the University of Michigan. She began collaborating, performing and recording with internationally-known creative and commercial artists. that include Anthony Braxton, Nona Hendryx, Aretha Franklin, Wadada Leo Smith, William Parker, Danny Elfman, Sun Ra Arkestra, Tyler the Creator, Gladys Knight, Emeline Michel, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Alicia Keys, Rhianna, Shaggy, Andrew Baba Lamb, Natalie Cole, Solange, Mark Anthony, J Lo and Shakira at President Obama’s Inaugural Neighborhood Ball. Playing local jazz clubs and subbing Broadway shows were threaded into her performing and teaching rhythm.
With this momentum, she began leading and collaborating in original music ensembles. Her first violin method book for beginning improvisers can be purchased at

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