My musical interests have been all over the map over the years, from the pop music scene of my youth to the folk/rock and rhythm and blues of my teens, to the blues and reggae of my twenties, but a huge change came over me when I finally found my way to jazz in my thirties. Or it might be more accurate to say that jazz found me . . . around 1990 jazz seemed to hunt me down and has been a central focus of my music and life ever since.
My introduction to jazz precipitated some important changes in the way I thought about music leading to a more disciplined approach to my guitar practice as well as much greater freedom in my creativity as a musician. But waking up to jazz also coincided with an introduction to many of the great African American musicians who created jazz and a better understanding of the true history of America. Jazz continues to influence my perspective of american history and human history in general.
Beginning to understand the history of jazz and realizing the influence that jazz has had on virtually all of the music that moved me when I was growing up and which inspired me to become a musician was like finding the seed within the fruit, the heart and soul within the body. And just as though I had been blind and then started to be able to see . . . or sleeping and then started to wake up, I began to allow America’s greatest art form to become part of my life and influence my music and improvisation.
In the nineteen eighties I got to see some great artists like Ron Carter and Luther Allison in intimate settings which were transformational experiences for me. I also had a chance to see Herbie Hancock perform live and experienced the power of communication of ideas through the language of Improvisation.
Some of my favorite big names in jazz whose recordings continue to influence and inspire me today include: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Jewel Brown, Charlie Parker, Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, but the full list goes on and on.