It would be a disservice to label Josh Sager
strictly as a jazz or rock guitar player. His history as a musician is as diverse as it gets, and his open-mindedness and appreciation for a wide variety of music has helped to shape his unique sound and approach to writing music and playing guitar.
Josh began playing guitar over 20 years ago at the age of 12 after learning and playing saxophone and the drums. Coming from a family where his mother, father, and sister were all musical, it seemed he could not escape his musical destiny. Some of the earliest influences on his development as a guitar player and songwriter were the band Rush, popular metal music of the time, and guitar players such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Yngwie Malmsteen.
Even before playing guitar, Josh was deeply involved in the study of martial arts. To Josh, both the martial arts and guitar playing go hand in hand and complement each other exceptionally well. Both require exquisite timing, sense of rhythm, and an understanding of physical, textural, and conceptual space.
In recognition of his efforts and musical abilities, Josh received a partial scholarship offer from Berklee College of Music, but decided not to attend college there. He also received a second partial scholarship to Rowan University (then Glassboro State College) for classical guitar, which he accepted, as a composition major. One of the highlights from his time at college was having some of his compositions performed by Julliard alumnus ensembles.
After college, Josh began to get frustrated with the local music scene. In his own words, "It was dead and very hard to 'make it.' I was also feeling a lot of personal pressure from not being able to play as well as I wanted. I lost touch with what was really important, which was playing guitar and music because I loved it." This frustration brought on a period of withdrawal from the music scene, and lots of introspection. But, what brought him back was remembering the reason why he started playing to begin with. "I fell in love with playing again, and now I feel more connected and inspired than I ever had been."
A turning point in his musical journey was meeting current teacher and guitar great, Scott McGill. Josh met Scott in 1991 after Scott was recommended by one of his martial arts teachers at the time. During this period of lessons with Scott, Josh had fallen in love with guitar players such as Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, Allan Holdsworth, and Frank Gambale, so he began including some jazz in his lessons with Scott to expand his playing and composition skills.
After spending a lot of time working with Scott on refining his harmonic language and technical ability on the guitar, and being turned onto players like John McLaughlin, Pat Martino, and Jimmy Bruno, Josh decided that he wanted to concentrate more on the hard-bop/post-bop jazz styles, and to this day continues to study with Scott, "the greatest guitar player alive—in my opinion."
Josh continues to pursue both studies of music and martial arts concurrently, each study influencing and enhancing the other. He is a highly accomplished artist in both senses of the word.