Alex Gabriel McKanze is not your typical tour guide. Born and raised in the Paris suburbs, he identifies himself as Italian American with French culture (the American side, since it does really exist, is German, British and Cherokee). He speaks five languages fluently, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as a little Portuguese and Latin.
As a freelance tour guide for Great New York Tours, he’s a walking encyclopedia. Even with a hangover, he can tell you that Henry Hudson discovered the Hudson River in 1609 (adding snidely, “Because the Native Americans obviously never saw it before”).
A 22-year-old with great ambition, McKanze speaks of his love for the “rhythm” of the city. To him, New York is work work work, and he loves it. He doesn’t know where his music will take him, but he is more than okay with that. He just wants to play.
I love it [Jazz]. It’s always new and it’s endless combination. And it’s also because you catch a moment that’s unique. Every time it’s different. I do not play the same song twice.
You can read the Q&A here or on Bedford & Bowery (This French-Born NYC Tour Guide Will Serenade You With Gypsy Jazz Tonight)