Sarah Gooch was born and raised in Portland, Maine before enrolling at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program. At a young age, Sarah’s grandfather introduced her to Duke Ellington records, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra as well as giving her a Buddy Rich cassette tape. The drummer always stood out the most in a big band to the ears of this excited little girl which drew her into wanting to be a drummer. She began playing drums at age seven and soon fell in love with jazz. When the opportunity came to join the middle school jazz band, she starting taking drum lessons to learn the basics from rock to swing. In her second year at Greely High School in Cumberland, Maine, Sarah joined the second jazz band but was eager to get the top jazz programs in the nation.
In January of 2014, Sarah got to work with the now One O’Clock Lab Band director, Alan Baylock in the Maine Jazz All State Honors Band. She was accepted into jazz programs with scholarships at Temple University, University of Hartford, and Berklee College of Music but turned down those offers to attend UNCG. By the end of her senior year, she played in the night finals at the state jazz festival competition, received two outstanding musicianship awards for combo and big band, and was a graduate to watch in the Portland Press Herald. Sarah is now a sophomore studying under Thomas Taylor. She is one of 28 students in the highly selective jazz program. During her freshmen year, Sarah learned from guest artists such as Jason Marsalis, Aaron Diehl, and idol Terri Lyne Carrington.
After hard work over the summer, lessons, and listening to the important jazz records in history, Sarah auditioned for Jazz All State and received the highest score to be placed in the combo without having ever played in Greely’s Jazz Ensemble 1. For the next two years, she played in her high school band and jazz band, made 5 district festivals on percussion and drumset, and two Jazz All State festivals. She attended Litchfield Jazz Camp in Connecticut going into her senior year to decide if music was the career that she wanted to pursue. She focused more on music in the fall and began applying to the best playing in the Piedmont Triad area and Maine during the summer months.
She will be a residential assistant at the Litchfield Jazz Camp this summer learning from the greats. Her biggest influences include Roy Haynes, Jack Dehjohnette, Jeff Tain Watts, and Billy Higgins to name a few. After she finishes her undergraduate degree, Sarah hopes to move to New York City to pursue playing, teaching, and possibly a masters degree.
Sarah currently plays in the Spartan Jazz Collective alongside faculty Steve Haines, Chad Eby, and Brandon Lee.