Your new album "Workin' It" is an impressive collection of original compositions and some very interesting covers. What was your main goal for this follow-up to your well-received debut release, "The Night, The Rain, and You"?
First of all, thank you for inviting me to do this interview and for your interest and support of my music. “Workin’ It” is a continuation of some of the ideas that began on “The Night, The Rain And You”. I really didn’t take much of a break between the two projects although I have applied what I learned about smooth jazz radio.
You pick some very intriguing titles to cover on your albums. What specifically are you looking for when you select other people's compositions to include on your projects?
In respect to choosing covers, I am similar to a vocalist. Will I sound good playing this song and does it suit my trumpet, flugel or EVI? Another consideration is, does the range of the song fit the range of the trumpet? I often change the key of the song and always end up with a new arrangement.
Did you willingly take up an instrument as a child, or were you pushed into it by your parents?
When I was in the 4th grade, Mrs. Irish, the school music teacher, came to us and said we could play an instrument. At the time, The Beatles were very popular so many of the kids including myself wanted to play drums. So Mrs. Irish gave us an ear-training test to check our aptitude for music. If you scored 90% on the test you could play drums. So I went to my initial meeting with Mrs. Irish and told her I would like to play drums. She said “No, you only scored 86% on the test.” So I said “OK, I’ll play violin” to which she replied “Nah, I think you’ll be better on the trumpet!”.
At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to become a professional musician and actually record your own solo albums?
When I was a freshman in high school, I was selected for the Santa Clara County All-Star Jazz Band which was performing for the bi-centennial celebration. In that band were Tom Politzer (now with Tower Of Power) and guitarist Stanley Jordan. But the real kicker was our director, Quincy Jones! This was a big band and he brought along his big band arrangements of TV shows like Ironside and Sanford & Son. I couldn’t believe there was music this cool! So after that concert, I quit sports and stopped studying and just practiced trumpet.
In addition to your work as a performer and recording artist, you have an extensive background as an educator. Looking at the whole picture of all that you do in the world of music, what gives you the most personal fulfillment and satisfaction?
Teaching has always been part of what I do musically, so it’s never required any extra effort on my part. All of my teachers were performers and recording artists as well. My trumpet teacher, Claude Gordon was an in demand Hollywood session player in the 1960’s and led his own Big Band and my composition teacher Greg Yasinitsky is a professor and performer in Washington State.
If you were able to trade places for one day with anyone living in the World today, who would that be?
I think I’d want to be my cat Stevie. He’s always content and having fun, and it would be cool to have claws and jump and do flips like he does. Of course this would only be for one day.