At what point in your life did you make the decision to become a professional musician and actually record your own albums?
I have yet to consciously declare that. Truth is the only decision I’ve made is to have a positive effect on others and to be happy. In making that decision what I found was the only way I could fulfill both those promises I made to myself was through music. In order to be happy I have to do what I love and in doing what I love I found it’s a way to positively effect people. Kind of a prearranged marriage of my soul and destiny is the way I tend to see it.
What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?
There is only one element for me and that’s Soul. If I can’t connect with a song on a true depth value its best I don’t even attempt to perform it. An honest secret about me, I actually have a really hard time memorizing songs that I cant get that type of connection with. I take it as a sign, a sign that I have no business playing that song in the first place if it doesn’t resonate in that deep honest place in my heart.
Of your touring and gigs so far in your career, do any stand out as being particularly memorable or defining moments?
That’s an easy one. In ’06 at the Beacon Awards Gala whose honorees that year were Ed Bradley, Barry Harris, Roy Haynes, & Jon Hendricks; I was to perform a set dedicated to Jon Hendricks during the Gala. Now to be clear on the scenario let me list the band for that dedication set: Lonnie Plaxico (bass), Vic Juris (gtr), Junior Mance (piano), Bernard Purdie (drums), Al Jarreau (vocals), last and least Tyrone Smith (sax). Is the intimidation value clear? Good. As if that wasn’t scary enough the guest attending this gala were Bill Cosby, George Wein, Billy Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Chico Hamilton etc etc. Not a name-dropping attempt, moreover trying to clarify the mindset of this youngster at the time.
If you were magically allowed to spend an hour with whomever you chose in history… alive or dead… and really be able to get inside their head, who would that be?
Miles Davis. For me Miles symbolizes a true boundary-less perspective, and that’s something I strive for. I strive to be open to everything, to remain able perceive as many viewpoints as possible while still being able to maintain a solid viewpoint of my own. Both in music and life/knowledge Miles seemed to always be striving for that universally applicable vibe that I find immensely inspiring. One of my favorite Miles quotes: “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is.” If I could have an hour, preferably more, to get to vibe with a personality that was able to sustain such a depth from both a knowledge and musical standpoint; I feel that would be infectiously inspiring.
How would you finish this sentence? “I don’t like to go a day without_________?
“I don’t like to go a day without Positivity & Love”
What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?
What I am most proud of is being at this point, at this level and still being me. That may not translate well for some so let me clarify. When you seek out opportunities especially those in the public eye; pressure is increasingly applied for one to configure to Boxes, Categories, or Labels that have been casted out before us. So to me the notion that I have been able to accomplish what I have so far; coming from where I came from, without succumbing to outside influences of others to get me to do/be what THEY want me to be is something I am very proud of. I arrived here on my own terms and hope that all my supporters continue to support Me for who and what I am rather than who or what I should be; and for that I am eternally grateful.