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I've been called powerful, and I usually bring just a little bit of drama to my interpretation. My sound is bigger than my body. I like to swing low and hard; I'm never more than a few steps away from the blues.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
The first time I can ever remember getting a standing ovation for performing an original tune, it was at a routine end-of-semester performance with the Brooklyn College Small Jazz Ensemble and we performed "Karen." The audience was riveted from the first line. It was the most surreal experience of my life thus far.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Original Jazz Classics, 1961).
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I am not creating anything, nor am I deconstructing anything. I am neither an iconoclast nor a follower. I am simply myself, and that is enough.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
We should not be afraid of change, or of outside influences, and above all we should not be afraid to be our authentic selves rather than simply imitating our mentors. We respect the past, but we should live in the present.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.