What in your life outside of your music drives you in a creative sense?
That’s a very interesting question because I think that it can be turned around to say “what in my music drives my life!” For me life is creation and music is life, whether is the sounds of nature’s voices such as the sound of the wind through the trees, the bird’s calling in the morning or the sound of the waves vibrating on the sand at the beaches edge. The sound of the human voice or the sounds that are made from man…it’s all the creative forces that surround us and make us alive! On a lighter note, one of my tunes on my CD “sub URBAN Life” is called “Mode De Lawn” and it comes from my experience playing my piano after a Saturday afternoon mowing my lawn.
What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?
Well it definitely has to have a groove, a bed to lay my head on, so to speak. Of course that groove can be a funky dance type or a mellow melodic type. My tune PFNJ is fun and satisfying for me to play because it has all the elements for me as a musician and the listener to enjoy. I also enjoy the soloist’s playing, Like Charley McCarthy’s solo on this tune. Playing a tune with great musicians certainly adds to that enjoyment!
How would you describe what inspires you to do what you do?
“A leaf on the tree of life that when one looks at the beautiful magnificent tree, my presence adds to the whole of that magnificence and beauty.”
Going back in your life as far as you can remember, what song or performance is the first you recall hearing and being affected by?
Interestingly what first comes to mind is Tennessee Ernie Ford singing “Sixteen Tons”. Why? Don’t ask, oh but you did? Okay, I remember the warm feeling in my house in Maine or New Jersey (I was maybe 4yrs old) it was a cold snowy day outside but inside it was very warm and secure and my mother was walking around the house singing with the record. I can only recall the sense of security and warmth. I never understood the lyrics but sometime well into adulthood I realized that I was drawn to music that had a melody a beat and represented the life of the time. Fittingly, my CD is called “sub URBAN Life”. Nat Cole, Dinah Washington and Mahalia Jackson would round out my earliest recollections.
What’s your favorite charity or cause you work for, and why?
I give and support the USO, being a military brat and also having served, I’ve seen firsthand what the USO does for our service personnel. The Red Cross Organization is another favorite. I remember they helped my family when my Dad needed to come home from a military assignment urgently. I know when I give to them that it goes to really help those in need. I also work closely with the Spanish Speaking Unity Council of Oakland California, a non-profit that helps people of color with childcare, Job education, At risk employment, home ownership and health services.
What’s your favorite non-music activity?
Basketball!! I love the game and play regularly whether in a league or pick up. I even carry a ball in my car, just in case! Basketball is like music, one must have some level of skill, finesse and strength. One also needs to think and react quickly to a changing environment. Playing in a game is like playing music on stage where you have a team and everyone has a position that complements the other. You compose the game through improvisation using the creative skills you bring to the game. When it works and everyone plays as a team it is very enjoyable, the audience sees and hears this and loves it too.