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I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I began studying at 13 years old with Tom Tedrahn in Chicago. I'd never met an adult like him, and my entire life has been richer because of my time with him.
"If you think you can or if you think you can't, you're right.
"There's always going to be people who play better than you, but there's always going to be a lot more who are much worse.
"I could go for something about the size of a hub cap.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why? It's always the latest one. Right now that would be Haute Suite (working title), inspired by the soul jazz tradition ala Maceo Parker and Les McCann/Eddie Harris. Looking at a 2007 release.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Songwriting. Simple, satisfying melodies and lyrics that either make you laugh or cry, or inspire you to take a deeper look at the world. Jazz without clear blues roots is scarcely jazz at all. "Whatever you have to say/leave the roots on/let them dangle/and the dirt/just to make clear where they came from - Charles Olsen. As Keith Jarrett said about Wynton Marsalis, "He's jazzy in the way that someone who drives a BMW is sporty. I've had to work with far too many chart-staring jazznocrats like that.
Did you know... I'm an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church.
How would you describe the state of jazz today? Short answer: Dessicated.
Longer answer: Like all the arts, a reflection of the society at large - with no regard to skill or work ethic - that hit the jackpot and makes more money than your family can spend for generations or join the rest the middle class slipping down the hourglass into poverty.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? A regulated and unconsolidated media. Leaders that value quality and originality. A sense of humor. Audible inspiration, not just lip service. Everybody says they're inspired by Satchmo, then how come I never hear it? Imitations and quotes don't count; it's about melody and giving yourself to the music. Just come visit Los Angeles if you want to see a mass of "entitled players who can scarcely bring themselves to tap their feet for the sake of the music.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.