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Bob Sheppard: The Clark Kent of Jazz


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Jazz musicians have this built in philosophy of not wanting to repeat themselves. Repeating ourselves is one of our biggest fears.
—Bob Sheppard
An unassuming bespectacled man in his mid-sixties walks on to the stage. In a band with stellar, famous, and maybe flashier musicians, one could be forgiven if they didn't even notice him right away. But as soon as Bob Sheppard presses a saxophone, clarinet, or flute onto his lips, he is super, man! An incredible musician and composer, Sheppard has long been revered by his peers. In addition to his own music, he has long been a first-call studio musician with a resume that will knock your socks off. His playing has been known to do that as well!

In addition to playing on well over one hundred movie and television soundtracks, his resume includes, but is not limited to, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Peter Erskine, Joni Mitchell, Mike Stern, Steely Dan, Billy Childs, John Beasley, Chris Botti, Bill Cunliffe, Kenny Barron, Michael Buble, Ray Charles, Stanley Clarke, Leonard Cohen, George Duke, Rita Coolidge, Scott Henderson, Rickie Lee Jones, Jeff Lorber, Joe LaBarbera, The Manhattan Transfer, Bette Midler, Dianne Reeves, Lee Ritenour, David Sanborn, Boz Scaggs, Arturo Sandoval, Rod Stewart, the Brecker Brothers, and Neil Young, just to name a zillion. I list so many names to help make a point. Although, as already stated, he is basically an icon himself within the industry, his name mysteriously has remained under the radar on an overall basis to the general population. It can be traced to Sheppard's lack of concern over fame and notoriety. He cares deeply about the music, his collaborators, and is completely at service to the compositions. Having his name up in lights has never been his goal.

With his many accomplishments, superior talent, and connectivity to jazz greatness, Sheppard is a man worthy of taking a few minutes to get to know. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do just that and am pleased to be able to share it with you.

All About Jazz: As much as you have had a long and impressive career in jazz, Bob, your resume is genre deep.

Bob Sheppard: I should say that my main goal always is to be a good jazz player and become a better jazz player. I have always done that. My musical path has turned out to be different than a lot of others. I have always worn many hats to try to make a living in the music business. Over the years good things have happened to me because of reputation and being in the right place. My middle-class background comes in to play in that I have played many styles of music and took many jobs with the understanding of hard work and doing what you need to do to make a living. But it all ultimately supported my jazz habit. I am a jazz musician and feel very fortunate to have played with a lot of amazing people. Are you familiar with David Binney, the great alto player?

AAJ: Indeed. Yes.

BS: He is a good friend of mine and we were in Krasnodar, Russia at a festival a few years back. I was hired to play with a big band, and he was there playing with Antonio Sanchez. We were just hanging out having a beer and he asked me about how I was able to be a jazz musician and to do all this movie soundtrack and Hollywood industry stuff. You know it occurred to me that I had never thought of it that way. That I didn't really try to do any of it. I didn't have a clear and defined path that I followed. Some people, a lot of people, have a goal and they stick with it. Such as that they are going to be a leader, have their own band, and put out jazz records along the way. To become their own jazz entity. I have had a lot of friends, guys like Bob Berg or Mike Stern or others right down the line, that had a vision for being a jazz artist and a leader. That was all they focused on. For me, because of circumstances, I became more like a worker bee. I did a lot of different things and was able to make a nice living doing that. But I realized that I wasn't putting enough energy into focusing on being a jazz musician. I never committed to doing my own thing because I was always busy doing things with other people, whether it be Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, or Herbie Hancock or many others, I was kept very busy. It just evolved that way, so I didn't put out a lot of records. Now I have to catch up (with a laugh).

AAJ: The Fine Line (Challenge Records, 2019) is your most recent effort in that quest. What can you tell us about that project?

BS:Thanks for asking about that. It happened by circumstances. Seems that most things do. Not necessarily a lot of forethought. A friend of mine, that is a bassist in Holland, had a production deal with a European label and we hooked it up. I wrote some tunes and its sort of as simple as that.

AAJ: The bassist you refer to is Jasper Somsen, yes?

BS: Jasper, yes.

AAJ: You also have John Beasley on board, who I know you have worked with extensively over the years. Was this your first collaboration with Somsen, as well as with drummer Kendrick Scott?

BS: Yes, it is. Kendrick is one of my favorite drummers and I really wanted to bring in someone from New York. Fortunately, he was available, and it worked out for me to fly him out to Los Angeles and be able to work together on this deal.

AAJ: That seems like a clever idea since you had a bassist from another part of the world and you and Beasley here on the west coast, to bring the east coast feel to the mix.

BS: Yeah and you know a drummer like Kendrick will shape the music and make it all happen. Beasley is a genius. I've played with him just about as much as anyone I could think of. He has played on my records, I have played on his records, we played together with Freddie Hubbard's band. So, we have a great connection. Having John around is such a comfort. Someone I can really rely upon musically. I just love his sensibilities. It turned out to be a nice combination of guys to make something cool out of the tunes I wrote.

AAJ: There's a new-found chemistry here. It has an invigorating tone to it. Did you find playing with this ensemble to have a unique energy and cool vibe to interact with?

BS: Oh, without a doubt. It had a feeling about it. I don't have a set band. I never have. I like playing with a lot of different players. I like to change things up. Even around town when I book a gig. I never know who I am going to call. Never sure who I am going to feel like playing with that night. I like the music to take on its own shape depending on the musicians' that are there. I like that idea. That to me is the essence of jazz.

AAJ: Well, yeah with the improvisational manner of jazz that makes a lot of sense. I can understand why you would dig doing it that way.

BS: Yeah, it's the nature of what we do. That's why we can play all over the world with different musicians. We speak the same language. I like that. I'm not locked into a preconceived way that I need to hear my music. For this record I was trusting that it would be a nice chemistry and I think I was right.

AAJ: I would have to agree. Just a couple of years ago you were part of a quartet that released the live record, From the Hip (BFM Jazz, 2013). With you and David Kikoski it was another grouping with great chemistry. You had, of course, played with both members of the rhythm section, bassist David Carpenter and drummer Gary Novak in previous ensembles.

BJ: Yes, that was an interesting deal. Kikoski was the leader on that. It was part of the pre-arranged set ups that producer George Klabin ( president of the Rising Stars Jazz Foundation and Resonance Records) was doing at the time. He would record with a live audience in his private studio. I knew Dave from New York and had played with him two or three times in different situations. Carpenter was probably the catalyst in getting the right band together. George knew all of us and so was good to go. Interestingly that recording sat around for some time. After Carpenter sadly passed away, I was listening to the recording. I hadn't really listened to it much prior to that, and it occurred to me that it was a really good recording. That this needed to be put out as a record. So that's what we did. Thankfully BFM Jazz was nice enough to put it out for us.

AAJ: It has a great flow. You all shared the space beautifully. Were you having as much fun on that one as it sounds like?

BJ: Oh yeah, David Kikoski is sort of a force of nature. He is a genius jazz musician. All of us were just sort of like hold on, here we go, hold on for your lives and away we went. It was really fun, and I felt really comfortable up there on the stage. A very nice sounding space.

AAJ: It has a very different feel to it than The Fine Line. Clearly, as you have stated, mixing it up conceptually with fresh ideas is a motivating factor in your approach to most everything you do.

BJ: Absolutely. In a micro way and a macro way, jazz musicians have this built in philosophy of not wanting to repeat themselves. Repeating ourselves is one of our biggest fears. That goes into our own personal way of playing. Trying to find a new vocabulary and new ways to play. I think we all share that kind of value system of creating new ways and new approaches.

AAJ: You all put in some clever and personal touches to the well-chosen standards. No arrangements, clearly very improvisational, any rehearsal at all or just completely off the cuff?

BJ: There were no rehearsals at all. We just made a list of tunes that we all knew and made a setlist and started playing. That's the way it happens a large percentage of the time. Even on a large scale. Playing with Herbie Hancock was that way. They were mostly his tunes of course. But still it was just jumping in and playing them. You get up on stage and blow. We know the language, so we don't want to talk about it that much. We want things to happen organically. It does take the right combinations and trust in the musicians you are playing with. The chemistry creates the music. You change one player and the entire deal changes. The chemistry is different, so the music is different. Then too, the more you play with someone the possibilities of that chemistry become even greater. Sometimes you can have musicians that are just stylistically or conceptually different and it just doesn't work. They may all be great musicians, but if the chemistry isn't there it just doesn't work. For example, there's a reason why Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison sounded great together. They stayed together because there was such an amazing connection. Miles Davis and his bandmates, same thing. You find the connection and you don't want to lose it. The other side of the coin though, too, is that some of my favorite records are ones where we just experimented playing with some different guys and you get lucky and find something that really works. But it can just as easily go the other way.

AAJ: I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing you perform about a year ago at the Baked Potato with Peter Erskine, Beasley, and Benjamin Shepherd What stood out to me was the band's ability to immerse itself into a song with such ease and just glide through, never being in a rush.

BJ: Well, Jim, you are right in what you are hearing. There is a sense of not forcing things and being patient.

AAJ: Erskine, like Beasley, is another you have collaborated with often over the years. That comfort zone, from a listening and watching perspective, would seem to greatly affect the options for all of you to expand between the notes. What do you appreciate most about playing with the great Peter Erskine?

BS: Peter is very strong in the ideas of pacing and dynamic contrasts. That's an aesthetic that he has that translates in his playing. Peter directs that band by shaping the music in the manner in which he plays his drums. His personality and musical concepts are so strong that they actually define that band. It's interesting because most of the time in jazz you don't want anyone controlling the pace, but in Peter's case you do. He has such taste and sensibility that you always agree with where he wants to go and where he wants to take it. I would put Peter at the top of the list of people that I have learned the most from in my career. And he's a drummer. So, you wouldn't necessarily think that, but over the years I have played with him a lot. He is a brilliant leader in the way he plays and shapes the music.

AAJ: You mentioned the word sensibility and I think that if you had to size up Peter in one word that would probably be it. It is evident in his playing that he is totally committed to the sentiment and feel of any given song. He savors the moments in third and fourth gears and isn't in any rush to get to fifth gear.

BS: Yes, that is well said. It is common for many post John Coltrane sax players to go for the jugular right away. To just put it out there. One thing that I really don't like is that some musicians will take a beautiful, sensitive, melancholy, or bittersweet tune and blast through it. If you heard the lyrics to the song you would never play it that way. It's all about the lyrics, and the tone and sensibility that sets. Sometimes there are jazz musicians who play songs from the American songbook inappropriately. They may be playing the changes, but they are playing it so out of context. This is where ego and the desire to impress takes over the actual musicality and overrides the sentiment. This is also a sign of maturity. When a musician gets older, they have gone through that phase. It can be part of the maturation process. When you start getting into desire, interpretations, and what you are trying to say, these are fun questions to talk about.

AAJ: I would have to think that the type of music being played factors in as well. You have played with a great many artists from a multitude of genres. Earlier in your career, like anyone else, it was a paycheck regardless of what you were being asked to play. However, you now have long been in a position to be selective. What are the essentials that you are looking for in aligning yourself with a given project?

BS: I have big boundaries in the stuff that I will do. I'm used to it. I really enjoy getting a call to sit in on a woodwind section. Nothing special, just to be part of the ensemble. A cog in the wheel. There is an element there that fits into my musical background. There is a lot of value in craftsmanship, and I can separate craftsmanship from creativity. Now, could I love with just craftsmanship? Absolutely not. As much as I have always wanted to be and considered myself to be a jazz musician, early on you don't know how things are going to go. Maybe I wasn't going to be the next Stan Getz or Michael Brecker. So, it always seemed important to be able to do this other stuff. And I like doing it. So, I am always grateful for the call. It makes me feel part of a very rich industry that has incredible musicians in it. It's nice to be a part of that. But, as far as gigs that I will accept, it is more defined by the music and the level of musicians that I will have the opportunity to play with. It's interesting that years ago, in regard to my contemporaries, there were many of us that would take just about any gig. We knew we weren't making any kind of musical statement sometimes, but we were supporting our families. There were others that would rather drive a cab or work as a messenger than to take a gig that they felt was beneath them. I always felt like no matter how shlocky a gig was that I might at least learn something.

AAJ: Certainly, more than you would driving a cab.

BS: Exactly. And I never walked into even the schlockiest of schlocky gigs acting as if it was beneath me. There's no call for that.

AAJ: Better to just not go than to do that.

BS: Right. Better to turn it down than disrespect it. And you never know who is going to be in the audience. I have had it happen that someone has heard me shine above the schlock and hire me to play a better gig. The decisions on accepting or declining gigs are interesting. They can tell you a lot about a person. I would rather be playing my horn somewhere than to be doing something else that I really didn't want to do. Other people valuated it a different way. Many times, they didn't do themselves any favors. Music is all about relationships. Sometimes a musician from the schlocky gig became successful in one capacity or another.

AAJ: Ah, and some people were willing to play with them, were there for them, in leaner times, and others weren't. Now they don't get the call and you, and others, like you, do.

BS: Absolutely, yes. Many years ago, my good friend Bill Cunliffe and I put together a sort of criteria as to whether or not to accept a gig. Basically, it was something like if it met three out of five points you would take it. It had to do with who you were playing with, and money, of course. That was a long time ago, so even things like the probability of meeting a nice young woman would factor in.

AAJ: I could see that being of high priority.

BS: You bet. Another thing that I will mention is that in my many years in the business I have, of course, met many musicians. It's interesting that to many music is very personal. That everything they write and every note they play is meaningful and a representation of themselves. Others look at it in a more perfunctory way.

AAJ: Basically, it's a job, like driving a cab or mopping a floor.

BS: Yes, exactly. They can play but they don't feel the music or care about creativity.

AAJ: It's staggering just how many music legends that you have played and created great music with. You are very well known and enormously respected within the industry however your name is still a bit under the radar for many listeners. Does that lack of familiarity or recognition ever bother you, or are you too busy having fun doing what you love to be concerned with it?

BS: Wow, that's another very good question, Jim. There have been times, but I have always been much more concerned about my colleagues knowing that I could play, then I was about the outside world knowing who I was. I don't know exactly why. Maybe certain people feel more comfortable in the background. Now as I mature, and I have led a fair amount of gigs on big stages, I really enjoy it. I enjoy entertaining an audience musically in any way I can, and I feel pretty confident doing it. It's really kind of an esoteric subject. I have a lot of friends who are absolute musical geniuses and nobody will ever know who they are. It's just the way it is. It's metaphorical, but it's just like life. It isn't always fair. Often it comes down to being judged and a lot of people don't want to be judged. It's not as common with a horn player, but a guy like Peter will have twelve other drummers in the audience night after night coming to see him play. It's like I said earlier, I have been a worker bee my entire career and I like it like that. You know, some people around town know me as an alto saxophonist, others view me as guy that plays the clarinet, I play the flute, and of course, as a tenor sax jazz player. I'm good with that. I just have a lot of fun playing music. I am motivated by playing and recording quality music. It's what I was meant to do.

AAJ: I must say that I am fascinated that you played several years with legendary trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Miles Davis was in a class by himself, the way the instrument just became a part of him. But no one surrounded and engulfed a trumpet like Hubbard. He was so powerful, yet graceful and lyrical at the same time. It must have been quite an education and experience being in his band. I would love to hear all about that.

BS: Well, I don't think there has ever been anyone who played with Freddie Hubbard that wasn't inspired, excited, afraid, and everything you could imagine. I was young and new to L.A. My friend Billy Childs told me that Freddie is sort of looking for a tenor player. They were doing a gig down at the Parisian Room. He told me to come on down and bring my horn. So, I did, and I played a few tunes. The next thing I knew I was getting some calls to play gigs with him. I was never really hired officially. But he was an absolutely great teacher. It was quite a learning experience. Being on stage with Freddie and having to stay with him and play with him was absolutely frightening. I would say to myself, "what am I doing up here? This is amazing." He liked the way I played, and I was able to play with him very well. I could just sort of read his mind and blend with him. I was able to stay out of his way when I needed to. I did gigs with Freddie over the course of eight years. I went to Europe with him two or three times. It was a proving ground if you could keep up with Freddie. He was just such a force and a big part of jazz history. I was on stage playing with one of my heroes. He was one of the greatest trumpet players that ever lived and here was this young Jewish guy from Philadelphia on stage with Freddie Hubbard. It was unbelievable.

AAJ: His presence on stage and the impact of every note on recordings suggest a very serious demeanor that was always in full focus musically. Was Hubbard a tough task master? A perfectionist? Was there a softer more easy-going side to his disposition off the stage?

BS: There was all of it. You never knew for sure what mood Freddie was going to be in. There were nights that you just knew that he was going to fool around with you and fuck with you. Most times he was jovial and would be in a beautiful mood. Freddie was a very sweet guy. I liked him a lot. He was a very warm and sweet guy most of the time. There was that other part of him that was a little volatile at times, but not very often. He never told me what to play. I really appreciated that. He liked what I was doing aesthetically. If not, I wouldn't have been there. We worked well together with a two-horn line, the trumpet and the tenor. I also played the flute with Freddie. I was being judged by a man that had played with many of the all-time greats. So, I was competing with history and trying to adhere to that. I mean he played with Joe Henderson for gosh sakes.

AAJ: You were trying to fill some mighty big shoes.

Really big shoes, yes. Probably part of the reason that Freddie like my playing was that Joe Henderson was in my blood. He was one of my favorite tenor sax players and I knew Joe's playing. So, I sort of had that in me and Freddie could hear that. Of course, he also played with Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane. I was fortunate in that I was an east coast influenced player that was in L. A. at the time. There was a different Grover Washington, Jr. kind of west coast sound going on too. But that isn't what Freddie was looking for. But Freddie brought a very high level to the stage every night. You had to play at a very high level to keep up with Freddie.

AAJ It had to be a very fulfilling education. Are there certain lessons or attributes that you learned that can be specifically traced to Hubbard, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, the Brecker brothers, Erskine, or any of the many other musical geniuses' you have worked with?

BS: With Freddie I learned a lot about 8 notes. His were very long and fat. Also, about timing. In trying to shape a solo, to be able to wait in regard to spacing. Chick Corea is very democratic on stage. He wants you to play your best. He didn't want you to feel under the gun with him. I always felt that he wanted you to give it your all, but to play it the way you wanted to. Others I have played with, like Horace Silver, wanted very specific stuff from the tenor player. The vocabulary was more defined. He wasn't much interested in what I wanted to do with a melody. There was never any preconception like that playing with Freddie or Chick. Which is really cool. Every gig has a certain sensibility that is needed. If you can supply that sensibility, then you will work a lot in this business. The music will tell you what to do. I just look in the Rolodex in my head....

AAJ: That's the only place a Rolodex exists anymore.

BS: (laughing) Yeah, I use that term with younger players, and they have no idea what I am talking about. When you survive those high-level gigs, you learn and grow so much as a musician. I played with Joni Mitchell for a time on her Both Sides Now (Reprise, 2000) tour and was subbing for Wayne Shorter, who did the record.

AAJ: Another huge pair of shoes to fill.

BS: Yeah, for sure. I considered what they liked about Wayne and what I could bring to the show. I sort of have Wayne Shorter within my musical DNA. I love Wayne Shorter. I have studied Wayne Shorter. I went on the gig trying to use that history from the Rolodex, but on the other hand I don't want to come off as though as I am trying to be Wayne Shorter.

AAJ: Sure, at the end of the day it still has to be you and your sensibilities.

BS: Yes, exactly. I had to be me. But there is a feeling that Wayne evokes that is very unique.

AAJ: And it's part of what people have in their heads from listening to the record.

BS: Yes, so I want to evoke some of that sort of à la Wayne Shorter. I have no problem doing that. It's something that I actually enjoy doing. If the need is for someone to play à la Johnny Hodges, then great. I love Johnny Hodges. Or Michael Brecker or any number of other guys that I have in my head. It's fun to embrace that challenge and do my best to get or evoke a feeling of that. Sometimes the music is defined by the player. I played with Steps Ahead and that music is defined by Michael Brecker. He created those interpretations. It's a trip to emulate but to still keep your own identity. We have all listened to the best. At this point no one is inventing anything new. It has all been done before. But you still have a voice in how you choose to put it together. You want to take it all and develop your own sensibilities with it. It's part of what makes jazz the most fascinating puzzle at this point in my life.

AAJ: That's the coolest thing isn't it? That jazz doesn't get old hat. It just keeps evolving and being interpreted and improvised in different ways. There is also some music from the past that you appreciate more as you get older as well, don't you think?

BS: Yes, it's very cool. And yes, indeed. Your palate becomes more refined. Absolutely. It's like food. I didn't used to appreciate sushi (laughing).

AAJ (laughing)I was thinking more like Thelonious Monk, but I get and appreciate your analogy.

BS: (laughing) Oh yeah, that takes a refined palate too.

AAJ: In addition to composing, recording, and touring, you are a faculty member of the Thornton School of Music at USC. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that woodwinds are your area of expertise for the university. Tell us about your position and duties as an instructor.

BS: Sure. I'd love to talk about that. I am a part time faculty member. I am not at the university full time like some instructors. Basically, I teach individual lessons in the jazz components. I have been doing that at USC for about 12 to 15 years now. Occasionally I will teach a class. But mostly I have private students. I teach quite a bit as I also teach out of my studio at my home. I don't teach beginners, but I do work with people of all ages. I really enjoy it. Teaching is part of my overall musical life.

AAJ: Do you find it exhilarating sometimes to be surrounded by so many young, bright, and eager students?

BS: It's totally inspiring for me. I have been teaching for many years now, well before my association with USC. I don't put a lot of stock into the curriculum for jazz. It's cool and I support it and I am glad that it is there, but I teach by extracting elements of how I learned how to play jazz and how to improvise and how to play my horn. You can't play jazz if you can't play your instrument. I focus more on that end of the learning curve. Most of what you need to know about playing jazz and playing a live gig cannot be taught in a curriculum, period. All the esoteric music theory in the world isn't going to keep you from getting your ass kicked on stage, if you don't know how to play your instrument and don't know how to improvise and handle yourself at a gig.

AAJ: We have talked about the present. If we go back a few years, maybe you could tell us where, and how, it all began. Do you come from a musical family?

BS: I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It was a great place to grow up. Unlike today, there were tons of opportunities to play live gigs. It's much more difficult these days for a young player to find a place to play. My dad was a saxophonist. He was an amateur, a weekender. He kind of regretted not studying it more and made sure that I did have that opportunity. I just started listening to a lot of jazz and doing a lot of transcribing. I started out by learning how to play the clarinet when I was about ten years old. I had thoughts of being a classical clarinetist. But when I first picked up a saxophone it seemed pretty easy to get around on compared to the clarinet. So, it just sort of took off from there. There were many Jewish and Italian kids who ended up playing jazz. It is part of the culture to learn to play a musical instrument. Your parents teach you that in order to be a good person you have to play a musical instrument. It's in the culture. So, guys were playing accordions or whatever, but we were all playing something. And since jazz was the most popular music at the time...

AAJ: That's way interesting. I hadn't ever thought of it that way.

BS: Yes, it's a fascinating subject really that that John Coltrane changed my life, and so many other Jewish and Italian lives. I mean he completely changed and altered the course of my life. Interesting in retrospect how much a black man from North Carolina had such an impact on an entirely different culture.

AAJ: It sure is. Besides Coltrane, what artists did you listen to growing up? Which ones would you say have had the most influence on your career?

BS: My dad had a lot of records. I heard quite a bit of Dixieland music and, of course, he had a lot of big band records. I started out playing alto sax and really loved listening to Phil Woods and Bud Shank. Then I got into Cannonball (Julian Adderley). I love Paul Desmond. I just tried to figure out how they made their sounds. With the tenor, when I heard Coltrane and Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson it was amazing. Then all the disciples like Brecker, Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman, Bob Mintzer, and Bob Berg. So many I love to listen to. The Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, and Woody Herman big bands, Miles Davis, oh and Bill Evans for sure. Probably the biggest single influence was the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. I used to go up to New York every two or three weeks and sit there at the Vanguard on a Monday night and just have my jaw drop.

AAJ: You and I are about the same age, so you were a young boy when The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show. Did they impact you and did you ultimately turn on to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, like the majority of our peers, or has jazz always been your thing?

BS: The latter. I remember so many of my peers going off the deep end, but I was never one to follow the crowd. I actually remember liking some of it okay. But jazz was and is my thing and I wasn't going to change that just because others were. I sort of took an attitude of jazz being my music and it being the hip music. I liked the idea of following my own path instead of just going along with the crowd. I appreciated some of that rock and pop music more later when I got older. At least more than I did at the time it was happening.

AAJ: That could be a difficult thing to do with the peer pressure of the time. Other kids chiding you for listening to what they perceived as "old people's" music. "That's your parents and grandparents music. What are you listening to that for? You should be listening to rock n roll."

BS: Oh man, does that bring back memories of feeling like a dork. But I was never one to follow the crowd. Even before that I was never in on the latest fad or running with the crowd. I didn't fit in with that group. I was kind of a loner. My best friends when I was a kid were my instruments. We spent a lot of time together alone in my room. But you know that is what it takes to become a great musician. If you are the regular kid that is well-adjusted, playing baseball, playing football, going to parties, being social, etc. then you couldn't have put in the hours and dedication it takes to be successful as a musician. You have to spend an enormous amount of time alone to become a great musician. It can be very lonely.




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