Based here in the SF Bay Area, I’m a multi-instrumentalist (reeds, keys), and have been making music for over 40 years. Today, I’m playing in two groups: Sarava, a Brazilian jazz quartet, and The Grease Traps, a groovin’ funk band based in Oakland. Another recent project had me working with my old friend, Dave Farzalo, where I recorded the tune Strollin’, which is in the playlist here.
While living here, I’ve had the good fortune of playing with wonderful players like Mark Levine, John Wiitala, Bruce Foreman, Vince Lataeno, and Brazilian cats like Carlinhos Oliveira and Claudio Bebbiano. I studied a few semesters at the Berkeley Jazzschool (now California Jazz Conservatory) with Marcos Silva.
Before the Bay Area, I helped start and played on Big Dave and the Ultrasonics, a six-piece Jump Blues band out of Ann Arbor, MI. We did some killin’ shows including the Detroit Blues Festival and several open-air Ann Arbor festivals. In the fall of 1991, the Ultrasonics recorded a live album, “Shake It While You Got It,” which has received critical acclaim in the United States as well as in Europe.
I grew up in Cleveland (Go Tribe, Go Browns), and there played on both Motown/R&B and Straight-Ahead Jazz groups, including gigs with the Willie Smith Little Big Band. I also made appearances with the Jazz Revival Orchestra, including a concert featuring Snooky Young. While playing the Lead Alto book with the Cleveland State University Jazz Ensemble, I got to make appearances with Art Farmer and (Young) Bill Evans at the Tri-C Jazz Festival,and did a performance with pianist Jim McNeely. Also got to study with Howie Smith, and my good friend Mike Lee.
Most musicians have, somewhere along the way, a mentor who cared, and opened their student up to new musical worlds and possibilities. For me, I had the good fortune of meeting Floyd Williams, who ran the jazz program at my college. An incredibly gifted musician, he opened my ears up in more directions than I can count. He got me to really listen to the jazz masters with a whole new appreciation. He was also a good friend, a great mentor, and an amazing musician. To this day, I have never played with a drummer who could swing harder. I played in several bands, though gigs were pretty scarce in the small town where I went to school. Even so, it was a great experience, thanks to Floyd. I spent a year studying in Paris, playing in the Piano Voyageur jazz quartet.