How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
Actually the music for Reflection came first. After I had done the recordings and listened back to my work I could hear all of the great artists that had influenced me over the years. I could also hear that while I definitely carried their influence, I was not a copy of any one artist but a reflection of all the great artists and music that had impacted me. On a broader scale, I realized that I strive to be a reflection of God as well as my family, friends, teachers, and mentors, which influenced and inspired the music as well. My goal for this album is to establish myself as a timeless artist, build a solid fan base, and provide inspired music that is fresh and familiar. I also want to go on tour and take the music to my fans around the world.
How would you describe what inspires you to do what you do?
The ability to do what I do is a gift from God. The gift was not given to me for me, but to share with others. It was also given to me to develop and give it back to God better than I received it. Playing music and having others be sincerely touched and moved by it is an incredible feeling. Playing and creating music with other great artists inspires me as well.
What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?
I look for a strong melody, good groove, and a vibe.
What would be the most important piece of advice you’d impart to a young musician just starting out in the jazz/smooth jazz arena?
Studying the masters and developing your chops and technique is the means to an end, not the end in itself. You need to develop your skills to the best of your ability to find your own voice and means of expression. Also, music is a lifelong pursuit; it is a marathon, not a sprint. If you know in your heart you have something to say, don’t ever give up on your dream.
If you were asked (and we are asking now!) for your advice as to what the Smooth jazz format could do moving forward to insure it relevance and growth, what would your suggestion(s) be?
I would encourage the format to be as broad as it can be within reason, so that we artists can be free to create incredible music that is personal, artistic, and accessible to our audience. This would lessen the pressure on the artists to conform to a narrow formula. Too many artists following the same formula can make listening to the format redundant after a while.
What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?
I am proud of the fact that I have persevered, been patient, and kept the faith. I have worked hard to develop my skills and my musical expression. It is now paying off and I am able to share my music with people all over the world.