Artist/clinician for the Ludwig/Musser division of the Conn-Selmer company since 1972, when signed as a Musser artist/clinician while in High School.
Author of A Contemporary Mallet Method - an approach to the vibraphone and marimba which is required study at several major music schools.
First to release educational videos for the vibraphone - www.masterstudyseries.com
Vibraphone and marimba.
Teachers and/or influences?
Studied with Gary Burton - Berklee College of Music - Boston.
Influences - Pianists Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I was seven years old and started to study drumming. Sat on a drummer's knee at a wedding and really enjoyed the experience.
Your sound and approach to music:
I strive for clarity in sound and being classical trained, I also appreciate definition and accuracy. I've developed a signature mallet with the Innovative Percussion company that gives a very clear and mellow tone on the mallet instruments
Your teaching approach:
Learn the basics then you are free to experiment. Learn to read and listen. Music is about sound and relationships of pitches and rhythm. Be open minded and supportive of good music.
Your dream band:
My dream band would contain a well-rounded World style percussionist with wonderful ears and a nice dynamic touch. I want colors to support the music and unique rhythmical feels.
A bassist that can be satisfied as a bassist and not want to play guitar.
I really enjoy the versatility of guitar - both acoustic and electric and the fact that they can play lead and harmony with a pretty big range. Piano is ideal, except it is difficult with piano quality and intonation especially when played with a vibraphone.
Anecdote from the road:
When playing a club in Philadelphia, I was approached by an older gentleman who said that I'm like a white Lionel Hampton and offered to freeze my nose. (Didn't know at the time what he meant).
Montreux Jazz Festival. It was one of those magical evenings when everything worked. The audience was great, the piano was delightful, the PA was perfect, and my playing was the best I ever experienced and was told so by fellow musicians. Fortunately this was recorded and released as the Best of Montreux 89.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
My most recent CD, Travels. This is a collection of tunes inspired from a year long tour from the serene Saguenay Region of Quebec to Puerto Rico and everywhere in between. It is a musical
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Consistent quality of compositions with musical performance. Not the same old rehashed standards that everybody plays on all the gigs, probably because they don't have the great composer that I have - Marlene Tachoir. Marlene is incredibly prolific and writes wonderful melodies.
Did you know...
I was actually groomed to be a classical percussionists and actually quit to pursue a career in jazz. This is perhaps why I am such a good reader. I still love classical music, just as a play I felt like a note machine. They hate in the orchestra when you ask for a 16 bar solo during the "Firebird Suite."
How do you use the internet to help your career?
Communication, contract negotiation, promotion. The internet has helped make every aspect of my career easier.
CDs you are listening to now:
Now, I'm actually avoiding other artists to stay fresh and not be influenced by others.
In the past though, I've enjoyed most of the Pat Metheny projects as well as Chick Corea.
Desert Island picks:
Pat Metheny projects - Any.
Chick Corea projects - Electric, Acoustic, Solo.
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Confusing. Too many categories. Bebop, Mainstream, Fusion, Blues, Avant-Garde, Contemporary, Big Band, Dixieland, Easy Jazz, Free Jazz, etc.
Unfortunately clubs seem to be disappearing and those remaining are more geared toward commercial and singers.
With the demise of the IAJE organization, jazz doesn't have a central organization to meet and promote.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Education and exposure in the classroom seems to be a vital key. Young people never have an opportunity to hear jazz, but once they do, they really love it.
Artist clinic appearances is a big plus especially on the college campus.
What is in the near future?
More of the same. Touring and presenting jazz improv clinics at Universities.
We are also writing and arranging some of our music for jazz quartet and chamber orchestra to cross a few barriers.
I'm also busy working on a vibraphone concerto for orchestra.
Music, Music, Music
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