How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
Iíve always loved Christmas music and wanted to record a Christmas album since I started playing and recording. However, to me a Christmas album is one of those projects that has to stand the test of time so to speak. If you do it right, youíll be able to tap into a genre all its own, and people that my not necessarily listen to jazz or instrumental music any other time of the year, may tune in and buy your music during the holidays.
Iíve waited until now to do it because I wanted to do just that. I must say, Iím really happy with how it turned out and feel itís my best work to date. We had a lot of fun with it, featuring many talented artists that Iím proud to call my friends! Iíve actually been working on it for years, recording demos and trying to get a feel of what Iíd want my Christmas project to sound like. I wrote one of the songs on the project back in 2005!
With commercialized holidays being what they are itís easy to mask the origin of the holiday. Though Iíd be remised not to include some of the fun classics, I also wanted to bring front and center the true meaning of Christmas by asking the question, Where Are You CHRISTmas? My hope is that itís an album that families will listen to as they gather round the tree for years to come!!!
How would you finish this sentence? ďI donít like to go a day without__ _______?
Picking up my horn! In middle school I really didnít like to practice. My band instructor would always tell me, ďIf you miss one day of practice, you will know it. If you miss two days, your audience will know itĒ I think he was paraphrasing Ignacy Paderewski, but Iíve found it to be true. Now I feel strange if I donít pick up my horn every day!
At what point in your life did you make the decision to become a professional musician and actually record your own albums?
In High School I had every intention of going into the Air Force after college so I did JROTC for 3 years. I couldnít be in band and JROTC so middle school band was all I ever had, though I kept up my sax chops by playing in church.
At the end of my junior year I found out that I couldnít go into the military because of my asthma. This left me frustrated like I had been wasting my time. It wasnít, however, as I learned things playing sax at my church that I likely never would have never learned in band. I was in choir, however, and my choir teacher knew I played sax (better than I sang no doubt) so at the end of my senior year she signed me up for the Talent Show, against my wishes haha. I played a popular song from my church and for the first time in my 4 years of high school, I felt like people finally saw me, like I wasnít invisible anymore. I got a standing ovationÖand to my surprise, they called my name for 1st place! I didnít even hear them say my name at first, I just stood there in shock!
There were some great singers and bands, but my saxophone and I took home a Big Basket full of Movie Tickets, Gift Cards, Belgium Chocolate and what every teenager needs, Mt. Dew!!! It was at that moment I realized that I really enjoyed being on stage and that people responded in a positive way to my music. I took it serious from then on, recording my first project my freshman year in college!
Outside of your musical career, what else in your life gets you excited and fulfilled?
Spending time with my family! I think family is so important and I try not to take it for granted. Iím real close to my folks and my sister. My wife and I just celebrated our 3rd anniversary and are expecting our first child so life is about to change drastically, but for the better. My favorite times together are just sitting on the couch with dinner and a movie. Itís simple I know, but I love every minute of it!
Of your touring and gigs so far in your career, do any stand out as being particularly memorable or defining moments?
Recently I got to open up for Average White Band and Tower of Power at the 34th Annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday! It was quite an honor for my band and I to play in the same festival of those folks, we had a blast!!!
What do you see as the biggest challenges to the growth of Smooth Jazz in the future?
You guys [SmoothJazz.com] have been instrumental (no pun intended) in helping me and so many Indie Artists get exposure. I think what you do for the Indie Artist is great!
I wish some of the National Jazz Festivals were as open minded. Iíve seen in my own career and with other Indie Acts well deserving of a slot in a festival get overlooked simply because they donít have a national following or a Record Label backing them. Iíd like to remind those folks that all of the great headlining acts of today and yesterday were little Indie Artists at one time before being given a chance.
So I think if there could be more slots for some well deserving up and coming acts at some of these festivals that would be a great step to furthering the Art!