I’m a multi-instrumentalist (reeds, keys), and have been making music for over 40 years. Today, I’m playing in two groups: Geometry of Chance, a Brazilian jazz quartet, and The Grease Traps, a groovin’ funk band based in Oakland.
While living here, I’ve had the good fortune of playing with wonderful players like Mark Levine, John Wiitala, Bruce Foreman, Vince Lataeno, the R&B band Soul Patrol, 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 Cavs. Go Tribe), and 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 in Paris, playing in a quartet, and doing a handful of gigs.
Soul Jazz to Braz-Jazz, and Beyond
Where to begin…
Like many musicians, my influences through two decades of playing are too many to name, and are kind of all over the place. Bird’s lines, Cannonball’s fire, Sinatra’s phrasing, Evans’ structure, Getz’s wistfulness, Miles’ space, James Brown’s groove, Coltrane’s mission, Ray Charles’ preaching, with the blues just under the surface of it all. There are hundreds more to add to this list, but you get the idea.
In more recent years, my attention has turned to Brazil, whose musical soul holds a vast wealth of styles, grooves and insight that I have only scratched the surface of. Giberto Gil’s energy, Ivan Lins’ melancholy, Tom Jobim’s musical poetry, Joyce’s pure musicality, Caetano Veloso’s meditations, the jingas of Bahia, the samba, and of course the bossa nova.
I have always been drawn more toward the funky, earthy soul jazz that came out of the sixties from cats like David Newman, King Curtis, Eddie Harris, and Cannonball Adderley. In more recent years, I’ve been hearing things on the baritone sax, and continue to develop that side of my sound. For me, it’s a kind of homecoming, since I played bari 30 years ago in school.
The other sound I can’t get out of my head these days is the Hammond B3 organ. So many great players there too…Joey D, Larry Goldings, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Groove Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, Brother Jack, and of course the great Jimmy Smith. I recently got an M3 organ (the B3’s little cousin) into my living room with a small Leslie speaker, and the sound is just hypnotic. I’ll be uploading some MP3s of of what I’m playing there.