Unassuming, the 5’9” young boy walks into the coffee shop, guitar strapped to his back, and looks for a seat. Several musicians and would be musicians line this coffee shop on any given day. But while most of them will practice their favorite pop song or work on writing the next indie hit, the 17-yr-old Andrew Forman sips his ice coffee and scours his iPod for his favorite Robert Glasper album. Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist and his jazz albums are heavily influenced by hip hop and R&B. This is the kind of music Andrew listens to and its the kind of music he has set out to master.
In some ways his story is typical. Andrew Forman’s father played guitar and would constantly be playing, and listening, to all types of music, from ‘Yes’ to Miles Davis. When he first heard his Cantor play the guitar in a Hebrew school he realized he wanted to play. “I asked her who taught her because I wanted to play like her. Her teacher was my first teacher. A classical guitar teacher, so old, that she was probably Moses’ first teacher as well,” says Andrew. His course was set, and Andrew did what most young guitarists do. He started playing rock. By middle school Andrew was practicing all the time. He says of those years, “I would plan to meet my friends at the movies on a Friday or Saturday night, and I would forget and lose track of time. I was learning new music and new ways to play old music, and sometimes practicing for hours at a time without even taking a break. Around eighth grade things began to move forward quickly and I started needing to find new types of music to play. By high school I was pretty much only playing jazz.”
Without even hearing him play you can tell that jazz is his music of choice. He wears classic Raybans and dresses like a kid out of the mid- century (you know, with clothes that fit.) He understands how to wear a suit and is polite and kind to everyone he meets. “When I started really getting into jazz, I got into more than just the music,” he continues. “I got into the style of the music and the style of the people who played it. It influenced my entire sense of what it means to be cool, and what it means to be a musician.” His accolades speak for themselves. Andrew has been selected to play in honor bands at the district and state level each year of his high school career and holds every musical scholastic honor that a student can hold. On top of that he has performed with the Grammy Band, the Young Arts Jazz Program, played in New York at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Young Jazz leaders jazz band, the Berklee School of Music’s Terri Lynn Carrington ensemble, and most recently, at Juliard’s summer jazz program.
With stellar grades, and loads of community service hours, under his belt Andrew has his pick of Colleges. At the ripe old age of 17, Andrew, along with his custom made, one of a kind Gibson ES-165, has begun his musical conquest.
He has already performed professionally with Olivia de la Garza, Drew Tucker, and Brad Keller. You might find him performing at Hyatt Place in Delray Beach along with another young rising jazz star, vocalist Zoë Fromer, or maybe with his quartet, at Brule Bistro, 75 Main, or backing up some of the best jazz players in the world in Ft Lauderdale, Miami, and beyond. When I ask him what his music plans are for the long term, he says what I expect him to say. “I want to play my guitar and travel around the world doing it.” Sometimes, when you hear those words from young musicians, they sound like ‘pie in the sky’ dreams, but with Andrew and his talent, it sounds like a legitimate business plan!